Thousands of people marched through the Afghan capital, demanding justice for a woman who was beaten to death by a mob after being falsely accused of burning a Qur’an.
Men and women of all ages carried banners bearing the bloodied face of Farkhunda, the 27-year-old religious scholar killed last week by the mob. Farkhunda was beaten, run over with a car and burned before her body was thrown into the Kabul river.
Organisers of Tuesday’s march estimated that 3,000 people took part, calling it one of the biggest demonstrations in Kabul’s history. Marchers chanted, “justice for Farkhunda!” and “death to the killers!”.
Police say 18 people have been arrested over her death and 13 police officers have been suspended, though many suspect that figure will rise as the investigation continues.
The demonstrators also called for action against officials and religious leaders who had initially supported the attack on Farkhunda by saying her killing was justifiable if she had burned pages of a Qur’an.
The country’s interior ministry said the spokesman for the Kabul police, Hashmat Stanikzai, had been fired over comments he made on social media supporting Farkhunda’s killers. Stanikzai could not be immediately reached for comment.
Among the crowd were prominent rights activists, including Fatana Gailani, the head of the Women’s Council, who said she hoped the incident would be a catalyst for change in a society traumatised by war, corruption and lack of leadership.
“We are getting fed up,” Gailani said. “The new generation has known nothing but war, they are not educated, and now they have no jobs.”