Imagine this: You are praying somewhere very special and holy, when suddenly you are surrounded by a group of angry men trying to harm you. You would be panicked, with no idea what would happen.
I feel speechless when I think of how Farkhunda was attacked and killed. I am happy that Afghan people have come together to ask for justice and show their sympathy for Farkhunda. But I also fear she will be forgotten after a while and the same thing will happen to other Afghan women.
The group responsible always makes trouble for people at the Shahe Do Shamshera shrine where she was attacked on March 19th. There were many participants in this. Some took pictures and videos and shared them on their social media; some watched the scene and did nothing while dozens of men attacked her physically and verbally.
One of the prayer leaders at the mosque—the Mullah Niazi—then tried to defend the killing, saying people were emotional about their religion, and he quoted Farkhunda’s parents saying she was mentally ill.
How can a religious leader defend the murder of a girl outside the mosque? It is not okay for people who are emotional about Islam to commit savageness to protect it. It is not okay to listen to people like this man and keep quiet.
If I looked at Islam only from his point of view and heard no reaction from his audience, I have to think I would have to leave my religion. However, I know that there is no truth to anything he says in the Qur’an.
It is not okay to accept Niazi as a religious figure when he shows no respect for women.
It is not okay to leave those murderers to live freely.
Niazi and other mullahs like him must be removed from mosques. These mullahs and religious leaders are very influential among their followers, especially the uneducated. Removing mullahs like Niazi might be difficult, but to move forward for the safety of women, it has to happen.
I am tired of repeating “Let’s hope” again and again. Hope doesn’t really exist if we abandon each other while in need. A true nation cares about its people. In a true nation, people have each other’s back.
I am tired of trying to fool myself by telling people that the situation for women is improving in my country. It is getting worse. I am tired of putting on my fake smile to talk positively. What happened to our hopes?
That morning when Farkhunda left her home, she no doubt had hoped for a good day and she expected to return home again. She did not. President Ghani must take Farkhunda’s murder seriously. The news reports say a fact-finding team was assigned to investigate the murder. Many men who attacked her have been arrested, but we wait to see what will happen to them. Now back in Afghanistan from his trip to Washington DC, the president apparently visited Farkhunda’s parents to offer his sympathy. But no action on this case will be the worst humiliation for women.
The people who believe in women’s rights, the people who support women and work with human rights organizations must encourage President Ghani to make it clear that violating women’s rights will carry severe punishment under the law. We must know that the government believes the life of every woman matters.
The writer is a student abroad.