An Afghan woman, falsely accused of burning a Qur’an, is slaughtered by a brutal mob

December 26, 2015 • 1:15 pm

If you’re squeamish, don’t read this article in today’s New York Times, and especially don’t watch the video. There’s a lot of screaming and blood, for the video and the article detail the horrific death of Farkhunda, a 27-year-old Afghan woman and a scholar of Islam, battered to death by a vicious mob after accusations that she burned and desecrated a Qur’an.

The thing is—she didn’t. She was protesting the desecration of a holy shrine by people selling stuff like amulets, condoms, and Viagra in front of it. She was a student of Islam! Later, she may have burnt some of the amulets, and perhaps someone had burned other things, possibly including pages of the Qur’an. An illiterate custodian then accused her of having desecrated the holy book, and the rest was predictable. The police tried to wrest her from the hands of the mob, but they eventually gave up and stood by while she was slaughtered. Killed for a book!

From the NYT story:

Mr. Naeem said that a police officer had tried to lead Farkhunda away, but that, mindful of Afghan custom as well as strict Islamic teachings, she had asked the officer to bring a policewoman. The crowd broke through. In cellphone recordings, more than one person can be heard shouting, “Kill her!”

“Then she fell down on the ground and the people tried to beat her and pummel her, and the police would try to help her up, and then the people from the other side would push her down,” Mr. Naeem recalled. “They were like kids playing with a sack of flour on the floor.”

In the videos, Farkhunda seems at first to be screaming in pain from the kicks, but then her body convulses under the blows, and soon, she stops moving at all. Even when the mob pulls her into the street and gets a car to run over her, and she is dragged 300 feet, the police stand by.

By then, she was little more than a clothed mass of blood and bones. Yet still more people came to beat her. One of the most fervent was a young man, Mohammad Yaqoub, who worked at an eyeglasses shop. He heard the crowd as Farkhunda was dragged behind the car and rushed out, eager to join.

Eight months later, neatly dressed with a small beard and mustache, Mr. Yaqoub hardly looked like someone capable of violence. Yet in the videos, he is so caught up in the moment that he has a terrifying ferocity.

“People were saying, ‘If someone doesn’t hit her, he is an infidel.’ That was when I got emotional and hit her twice,” he said in an interview at Pul-i-Charkhi prison, just east of Kabul. “My third punch hit the road, and my hand got injured.”

. . . At first, the trial and convictions that followed seemed a victory in the long struggle to give Afghan women their due in a court of law. But a deeper look suggests otherwise. The fortuneteller who several investigators believe set the events in motion was found not guilty on appeal. The shrine’s custodian, who concocted the false charge of Quran burning and incited the mob, had his death sentence commuted. Police officers who failed to send help and others who stood by received slaps on the wrist, at most. Some attackers identifiable in the videos avoided capture altogether. Afghan lawyers and human rights advocates agree that most of the accused did not receive fair trials. Farkhunda’s family, fearing reprisals and despairing that the killers would be held accountable, fled the country.

It’s a long article, and some of the perpetrators were tried in what seems like a mockery of justice. Many identified people who beat Farkhunda were let off, and others sentenced to a few years of prison. Many escaped justice for a bizarre and unconscionable defense: that she may have already been dead when people were beating and stoning her, so who knows who actually killed her? After all, it’s no big deal to bash someone who’s already dead! That would never pass for a defense in an enlightened court.

It’s not irrelevant in her treatment—and that of her killers—that she was a woman. Certainly other Afghan woman saw her lynching and the exoneration of her attackers as a symbol of their cultural and religious oppression.

Women carry Farkhunda’s coffin, and a crowd accompanies the body as a sign of protest at the injustice of her death. Credit: Massoud Hossaini/Associated Press

You know what I’m going to say next: this woman would still be alive had there been no religion. And you can’t pin her death on colonialism, either: it was Afghan on Afghan, defending their Qur’an—a book that wouldn’t exist without faith. What’s horrible beyond that is how people like Mohammad Yaquoub, whom you’d think of as a normal person if you met him in the optician’s shop, can be transformed into a killer by a frothing mob mentality. As Steven Weinberg said, for good people to do bad things—that takes religion. Let us see Glenn Greenwald and C. J. W******n pin this one on the West. It won’t stay pinned, for the killer here was a “morality” driven by pure faith.

The video is at the top of the article; to access it and the article, click on the screenshot below. I’m surprised that something this graphic appeared in the NYT, but I approve of its being available. If you can stand watching this, you’ll see there is no substitute for actually witnessing what happens. Reading the description alone doesn’t come close to conveying the horror of Farkhunda’s death.

Screen Shot 2015-12-26 at 12.43.36 PM

104 thoughts on “An Afghan woman, falsely accused of burning a Qur’an, is slaughtered by a brutal mob

  1. A regressive leftist argued, a few days ago, that fundie Islamists and extremists are totally different. For example, fundies are totes ok, until, you know, they kill people, at which point they are extremists and then not ok!


  2. I found it encouraging that they had trial. At least it was something. The bar is pretty low for me when it comes to the middle east.

    1. Hardly the same as the present horror, but still instructive about the violence inherent in humans : “A Whale for the Killing” by the Canadian author Farlely Mowat.
      It describes the violent and stupid slaughter of a seventy-foot pregnant Fin whale trapped in a Newfoundland inlet in 1967.

    2. Most mobs have three basic constituents:

      1. Those who make things happen.
      2. Those who want things to happen (agreement).
      3. Those who are too scared to stop things from happening.

      In America, mobs exist, but they are the ungathering type. For example, an abortion clinic doctor is murdered. Most of America sits into the category of appalled. While some are delusionally pleased by the outcome even if they would never attempt to do such an act. And there are still other’s who live with those who agree with the murder, but are afraid to make a stand in their own lives against the idea that such an act is reasonable given the faith they are absorbed into.

      1. Ungathering? What about a riot? What about lynchings? What about black Friday sales? Those who are appalled are the ones who aren’t there.

        I think it’s an interesting question about what *stops* a mob from reaching critical mass.

        1. This article by Malcolm Gladwell (yeah, he’s not usually one of my favorites either) appeared in The New Yorker a little while ago. It discusses the work of a Stanford sociologist who has studied the dynamics of riots and other mass lawlessness. Pretty interesting stuff.

  3. Surreally off the mark, one more time.
    Afghans on Afghans may or may not be related to Western abuse and meddling in the Middle East. That’s not the point, let them handle their internal affairs.
    The argument is that attacks of the Middle East in Western territory are directly and exclusively caused by decades of Western abuse, sacking and intervention in the Middle East.
    I will repeat, for the gazillionth time, and I will continue doing it, until my last day on this planet: Hey you West, get the fuck out of the Middle East! It is your war, but my dead.

    1. I am not sure what you are attempting to say. Hopefully you are not complaining about the post, that identifies a (religiously promoted) tragedy and a human right/legal problem that compounded it.

      1. That was sublime. No friend of mine on this planet wallows in the delusion that religion is to be absolved to a degree that some other cause must be the source of bad outcomes.

        Bad outcomes are what we get when we let fundamental religion shroud lives with totalitarianism and barbarism.

        If anyone thinks the West is to blame, they need to unconnect their house from local sewage, get themselves a donkey, and purge their cabinets of medicine. It’s science or religion. Each person needs to ask themselves which choice are they making.

        1. My dad was telling me about a slow on the mediaeval period where serfs were killed if the crops were bad because it was thought that the crops failed because the serfs were sinners. This usually after the local priest blessed the crops to no avail. This is what it is like to live in a science free society.

    2. Just focusing on the part about Western meddling in the Mid-East: I think most of us here can agree that several episodes of this meddling has been duplicitous if one goes back many decades. Also, ~ all of these adventures, even those whose aim was to do good, actually had very mixed results or even gawdawfull results. I think that Obama has this history very much in mind as he very cautiously tries to do something about ISIS while not making it worse.

    3. Would sure be nice to see the Muslim-majority nations of the Middle East raise armies of their own, from their millions and millions of citizens fit for service, in order to defeat the hideous evil being perpetrated by Daesh in the name of Islam.

      Don’t you agree, Paulo?

    4. Paulo, you’re the one who’s “surreally off the mark.” Your comment has precisely nothing to do with the gang-slaughter of this innocent woman by a backward, depraved, slavering mob of adult male Afghans.

      But obviously you approve of them “handling their internal affairs” like this. Your people, your dead.

  4. Despite the existence of Muslims who genuinely do not approve of or in any way support obscene actions like this (I have known several such Muslims), these actions proliferate and proliferate and proliferate…

    …to the point when it seems accurate to declare — accusations of Islamophobia be damned — that it would be better for the whole world, including Muslims, if all traces of the creed that inspired this and other beyond-brutal murders like it and will likely inspire many more of them would entirely vanish from human consciousness.

    1. Agreed, if you’re talking about playing “imagine” while Imagine plays in the background.

      Not if you’re talking about extirpating religious faith by force.

      1. Absolutely nothing in my post supports or implies support for “extirpating religious faith by force.”

        I do not support this in any way, shape, or form.

        Besides, any effort to “extirpate” religious faith by force would in all likelihood have the opposite result.

        Unfortunately, the “extirpation” of the insanely evil form of Islam practiced by the killers of this unfortunate woman and so many others — yes, including large numbers of Muslims — can happen only slowly and through patient, unrelenting criticism of its mania.

        But it seems that this process will take an extremely long time to succeed, if it ever does. And, in the meantime, so many more innocent people, it appears, will have to be wantonly slaughtered.

        1. In your initial comment you “declare[d] … that it would be better … if all traces of the [Islamic] creed … would entirely vanish from human consciousness.” (Which sounds like an “extirpation” to me.)

          But you were vague on whether this was free-floating fantasy, or whether you had some means in mind for accomplishing this goal — which is why I posed those two options in the alternative.

          In your follow up, you make clear that you don’t support bringing this end about by force, but bin some other (as yet unspecified) manner.

          I agree with your goal, and with you estimated timetable; it’s your concept of “how” I remain unclear on.

  5. It’s so wick3ning to read how religion excuses people from acting cruelly. I read this horrible account told by a couple of Yazidi women who help girls escape from slavery and it was so disheartening (the slavery, not the rescues)

  6. A fine example of the beauty of religion in general and monotheistic religion in particular.
    Did anyone recognise members of the (strangely quiet) Westboro Church in the crowd? They’d have fitted right in, and I’m sure wholly approved.

    1. Sigh. I hope to read an article some day on an atrocity in an Islamic context and not see the inevitable false equivalency with Christianity. The Westboro Baltist Church is a popular false equivalency at that, although unfortunately for those who invoke them, they have never killed anyone, just used free expression to articulate their hateful viws. To even compare them to a murderous mob smacks of the Regressive Left mentality on free expression, which often rationalises censorship by equating speech with actual violence.

      1. Sorry, but they are both monotheistic religions, and both descended from Judaism (merely differing on the minor question of who the last prophet was ; in this respect they’re in the same shit can as Mormonism). So from the perspective of a non-believer they are barely distinguishable and can only refer to the same god. Your god, your problem.

        1. Your response fails to address my criticism in any way. The historical relationship of the religions is not an argument for why the Wesboro Baptist Church merits mention in a post concerning Islamic fundamentalist violence in Afghanistan. Frankly it is just anti-intellectualism to suggest that the differences between the parties are not readily apparent, even though they are both dangerous religious fundamentalists. That attitude smacks of anti-religious bigotry rather than reasoned opposition to faiths.

          1. I think it addresses it pretty fully. I don’t see any significant difference between Westboro, the reverend down the road, and Daesh. They all purvey the same contempt for human thinking ability and they are all slated for the same utter annihilation if I ever get my long-overdue election as World Dictator (Benign).
            You are free to disagree with me. But I’m free to disagree with you.

          2. I think you’ve confused “bias” for “bigotry.” Aidan’s comment suggests an anti-religious bias; it’s a bias many of us share, inasmuch as we find that the influence of religion on society is, on balance, pernicious.

            But I see nothing in Aidan’s comment, or in any of his other comments on this site, that indicates an anti-religious “bigotry” — no suggestion that religious people should be afforded fewer rights than the non-religious, no suggestion that he disrespects religious people’s humanity (as opposed to merely their ideology).

  7. Sam Harris warns about the psyche of believers in possession of atomic weapons. Some find it so unbelievable, yet they find it more credible to believe that Harris wants to wipe out millions of Muslims.

  8. She was protesting the desecration of a holy shrine by people selling stuff like amulets, condoms, and Viagra in front of it.

    God and mammon — always a volatile mix. In some places it is a graver sin to blaspheme free enterprise than religion. Unfortunately, that does not include Afghanistan, since those places have, at least, abandoned trial by ordeal and punishment by stoning.

  9. This is horrendous, absolutely sickening. It is not often that I am shocked by something I see on the internet but this has really upset me. It’s truly awful, I don’t know what else to say; words can’t do it justice. Poor woman.

    1. Poor woman? Do you think her final thoughts were “this is Allah’s will”? Would she have participated if the accused were someone else? She was a victim not only of this mob but of her own beliefs!

      1. I was expressing some simple human compassion and empathy. I don’t give a shit what her own beliefs were and have no idea what her final thoughts were, and neither have you, although my rough guess would be morbid terror and blind panic. I am as anti-religious as anyone you’re likely to meet but my first response when seeing someone suffer terribly is one of compassion, not that they deserve it because they had backward religious beliefs.
        In all likelihood her life was one of repression and misery. She would have no freedom to choose her beliefs, whom she would marry, and at what age she would become pregnant. She would have had no education to speak of other than the Koran and the Hadith and for all you know her only chance to leave the house would be to visit the shrine. If anything she was not a victim of her beliefs; she was a victim of the society that gave her and everyone else no choice but to be indoctrinated from birth. Any woman in that society that has the autonomy to live her life as she wishes, free from forced religion and marriage, is a very rare individual. What would you believe Scettico if you were born a woman in her society? A free thinking atheist?

          1. Compassion and empathy notwithstanding, your argument can also apply to the mob that killed her. Do you have compassion and empathy for them? How can you not give a shit about her beliefs that is what fuels these events!

          2. Well it’s pretty pointless to say compassion and empathy notwithstanding as that was whole point of my post.
            I do care about the beliefs prevalent in such cultures as in general they have negative consequences. However I don’t give a shit about her beliefs in the context of her suffering at the hands of that mob. She suffered horribly and as a fellow human that makes me feel bad.
            The crowd behaved like bloodthirsty medieval savages and I find it very difficult to sympathise with them. However I do have sympathy for individuals indoctrinated into such backward belief systems as they have little choice or chance to break free.
            We are all products of the society that we were raised in which leads me back to my previous question: Born as a woman in such a religious, patriarchal culture and provided with no education what would your religious and philosophical outlook be? Would you be a free thinking humanist / atheist. I doubt it.

  10. Good job the Hebrews did not react like this when Jesus kicked over the tables of the money-lenders, otherwise we would probably never have heard of him.

    1. Even better that the temple-cleansing story was likely made from whole cloth, such that its proponents can cut it to whatever shape and size promotes their proselytizing.

  11. Westerners are misinterpreting this whole incident so badly it just makes me cringe.

    Farkhunda was a Muslim all right– a Taliban Wahabist fundie to be precise. Wahabists preach a puritanical form of Saudi Islam that is intolerant of other sects, and one of their targets for persecution are the shrines of saints revered by Shia and Sufi minorities.

    You know the Shia shrines that ISIL blew up? Like the grave of Noah? Well, that was the sort of activity that Farkhunda approved of and was, in her own way, trying to assist. There’s the added detail that women often gather at certain shrines to pray for fertility and for help with other women’s problems and in a landscape almost entirely devoid of women’s spaces, shrines are one of the places outside the home that women can go and, you know, actually speak to other human beings. Women are NOT encouraged, or in many cases even allowed, to attend the large masajids where the men pray, pass the time, and gossip. Women can and do go to shrines.

    The shrine was certainly selling amulets and trinkets, just as Catholic chapels and pilgrimage sites do. The condoms and Viagra are probably an imaginative detail added by Taliban as a slur (women being anywhere must be an excuse for wanton sexual hijinks).

    So Farkhunda practiced an imported Arab puritanism that is dedicated to stamping out all local manifestations of Afghan culture, including the regional holy sites and graves. She had intended to become a math teacher and turned fanatic instead. She was not a nice person.

    So she went to the shrine to harrass and bedevil the people there, especially the women, and the rest we know about.

    By talking about Farkhunda’s piety and “dedication to Islam”, and about the shrine’s “con game”, etc. and so forth, Westerners are repeating the extremist narrative and accepting it. In a region in which Shia and Sufi are regularly being killed in broad daylight and historical shrines are being destroyed by fundie extremists, we should not be doing that. I don’t believe she deserved to be killed by a mob, but we need to stop telling only the Taliban’s side of the story. This is just nuts.

    I mean of course those amulets and things do not work, but nothing that any religion is selling works anyway, so why pick on this one mostly harmless uniquely local-culture female-friendly activity? It’s not like the Taliban are tearing up shrines to replace them with logic and reason.

    Sorry this is long.

        1. I think the “but” part of your single sentence denying that you think she got what she deserved belies you. Being horrified at this kind of religiously motivated behavior does not mean you are siding with the Taliban. Not even if you are a Westerner. Horror is horror.

        2. And I think you’re being deliberately obtuse because the context of the situation makes you uncomfortable.

          By all means carry on with your little pre-conceived simplistic narrative.

          1. If being horrified by display of religiously-motivated violence like this is “simplistic” because the victim is someone who might herself have participated in religiously-motivated violence, then I’m fine with the label. But I’m not fine with being lumped with the Taliban because the perpetrators are themselves victimized by Wahabbists.

            And, no, I’m not the least discomforted by context.

          2. Let’s try the test of intelligence as defined by Bill Maher, the ability to hold two thoughts in your mind at the same time. These would be:

            1. We should deplore what happened to this woman,

            2. We should deplore what she was doing when she was murdered.

            Simple enough now?

          3. You know, tinwoman, the problem we’re having might have nothing to do with simplicity. It might have more to do with clarity of expression. Or perhaps with asserting moral equivalence between “westerners” horrified by religious violence and Taliban activists.

            You’ve fallen into a habit of supporting your case by demeaning my ability to understand you. I think I understand you perfectly well. I’ve read and reread your original comment, and those that followed. My advice would be for you to do the same. And see if there might be a problem other than me being simpleminded

          4. So it’s everyone else’s lack of reading comprehension and inability to engage in dual-object ratiocination that’s the problem here — that’s your take on this, tw?

    1. “I don’t believe she deserved to be killed by a mob, but we need to stop telling only the Taliban’s side of the story.”

      I don’t believe the article is telling “the Taliban’s side of the story.”

      I think this an example of how dogmatic beliefs can result in actions that are absolutely horrific. I could care less if Farkhunda was a Jeffery Dahmer equivalent.

      How much does someone have to surrender their humanity to think that it is proper, nay required, to torture another human to death.

      I’ll end with a quote from the physicist Steven Weinberg, ” With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”

      I think that was the key point to the article.

      1. I believe you are correct – it takes religion and one more important trait in human behavior and that is herd mentality.

        You can never come with enough excuses or reason to justify this type of thing.

        The really important question about Afghanistan or Iraq is, what the hell are we doing there? Eventually we are dragging our own society down to this same level. We are not so far away already.

        1. Great point, Randy.

          I wish Dr. Weinberg would have used the word “dogmatism” rather than religion. However, in his defense, I think religion is the major, if not the most (rampant nationalism/tribalism may have a claim) profuse use of taking advantage of the “herd mentality.”

    2. Thanks for clarifying her real motives. And yet somehow I fail to see how that even matters. How does that somehow mean that we are ‘misinterpreting’ this?

    3. So in your telling the moderate Muslims of Kabul taught this Wahhabist fundamentalist a lesson in moderation by savagely beating her to death in public? Chalk one up then for religious toleration, proportionate justice, and the rule of law.

      1. I get what she is saying. She isn’t applauding what barbarous things happened to this woman, but it is interesting to note that most likely this same woman wouldn’t object to this religious violence herself. Such victims of religion and the barbarous culture it creates!

        1. But what tinwoman claims makes her cringe, Diana, is westerners’ being mistaken about details concerning the attack that are otiose to making the attack detestable in the grand scheme of things.

          By way of analogy, I would have been as disapproving if a family member of a dead American soldier had killed one of the Westboro Baptist Church protestors, based on the dead soldier’s family being outraged over the distastefulness of the funeral protests, as I was disapproving of the anti-abortion zealot’s murder of the victims of the Planned Parenthood rampage in Colorado (whether or not I might be able to muster a larger well of empathy for the perpetrator of the former than for that of the latter).

          Similarly, it matters not to our outrage over the vicious beating death of a defenseless woman by a religiously motivated mob in Kabul that the victim may have been the proponent of a repugnant strain of fundamentalist Islamic belief. That some westerners were unaware of the victim’s beliefs at the time they ventured criticisms of her murder by that mob, hardly renders those criticisms cringe-worthy in my view.

          I grasp the narrow point tinwoman is asserting; I just don’t find it lends support to her argument.

          1. Oh I agree. I think I just wanted to explicitly state what her main point was in case it was lost.

      2. Oh, good dog.

        Let’s try the test of intelligence as defined by Bill Maher, the ability to hold two thoughts in your mind at the same time. These would be:

        1. We should deplore what happened to this woman,

        2. We should deplore what she was doing when she was murdered.

        Simple enough now?

        I just love how the NYT repeats the rumor that “condoms and pregnancy tests” were available at the shrine, as though there were something terribly, terribly wrong with women having access to such things. This is the Taliban viewpoint, and they’re parroting it. The population of Aghanistan is set to double in the next three decades, with no corresponding increase in food production and a declining water base. They should be giving away condoms and birth control at shrines where women congregate. But fundies like Farkhunda are working to make sure nothing like access to birth control and pregnancy tests will ever, ever happen.

        Is the problem clear enough now? Or not?

        1. That’s enough insulting other readers, okay. Comments like “good dog” are not appreciated here. And, of course, where are your sources that you’re right and the NYT story is not? You could have made your points without insulting the other readers. Now apologize or do not post here any more.

          Have you read the roolz for commenting here? I don’t think so.

        2. “Is the problem clear enough now? Or not?”

          So she was massacred by these Muslim savages (moderates, my ass!) because she opposed birth control?

          Is that what you’re trying to tell us?

          1. All you US commenters, why do you sit idle and just type comfortably from your coaches while birth-control-opposing fundamentalists roam free in your country? Stand up, get some sticks and stones and teach a good lesson to those evil folks (beginning with the women), and do not relent until condoms are lined for sale in churches!
            (This is dark sarcasm, maybe of poor quality, but I can’t resist.)

        3. That test for intelligence comes from an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story, “The Crack-Up.” It’s the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind while remaining able to function — that’s the sign of a first-rate intelligence.

          What you’ve got is a naked assertion without a point, lacking an argument.

    4. “I don’t believe she deserved to be killed by a mob, but we need to stop telling only the Taliban’s side of the story. This is just nuts.”

      Oh, yes. We should also be telling Boko Haram’s side of the story, Al Shabaab’s ISIS, Hamas, al Qaeda, Asad regime’s side of the story, Muslim Brotherhood’s, Hezbollah’s, etc

      Pick your version of the story from whatever Muslim tribe you like.

      1. “I don’t believe she deserved to be killed by a mob, but we need to stop telling only the Taliban’s side of the story. This is just nuts.”

        Or rather…

        “I don’t believe she deserved to be killed by a mob, and we need to stop telling only the Taliban’s side of the story. This is just nuts.”/blockquote>All supported by evidence, of course.

        1. All the evidence of the crime was captured on video (made by the “moderates” themselves): a defenseless woman was stomped, rolled over by a car, and burned.

          Today, the “moderates” removed their videos from their websites, and want to tell us how that REALLY happened. SMH…

          1. Or how nuanced the whole situation was.

            Seriously, tinwoman’s whining about her tribe’s version of the story exemplifies all that is wrong with the Muslim world.

          2. Yes, and if she happens to be a USian SJW, a lot of what’s wrong with one school of thought in the Western world as well.

          3. I’m probably going to be unpopular suggesting this, but I think she does raise interesting points and I think that perhaps the way she articulated it is causing people to think she is saying it is okay to punish this woman when she isn’t actually saying that. She may have been quick to anger when challengeD, but she did point out interesting things I hadn’t considered.

          4. @Diana: Yeah, tinwoman’s comments tipped me off to family-system dynamics at play in Islam and Farkhunda’s massacre.

            tinwoman’s focus on educating us about the Taliban stuck me as emeshed within the Islamic family system. And she reminded me of my mother who scolded and blamed me for angering my father instead of focusing all her energy on saving me from the violence.

            tinwoman offers valuable psychological information about Islam as an extension of a disturbed family process. Her focus on Farkhunda’s “sins” (birth-control destroying, Taliban-sympathetic fundie) rather than demonstrating heightened empathy and sadness for Farkhunda highlights how important it is to be removed from the Islamic family system (the religion itself) to think clearly and humanely.

          5. I’m fine, even pleased to receive, the additional background information. My objection is to suggesting that this “contextualizing” (gods, I hate that term) makes me uncomfortable, that I (we) side with the Taliban in some way in the absence of the info, and to the pattern of trying to demean those with whom she is engaged.

          6. Diana & Charleen: I think you are right! I know ex-Muslims who admit they couldn’t feel any compassion to Marwa el-Sherbini. (She was an Egyptian immigrant to Germany, killed by a non-Muslim whom she brought to court because he had offended her over her headscarf.) These former Muslims had suffered so much from Islam that saw in Marwa just a promoter of this religion, not a murdered human being.

  12. I have never seen this kind of brutality. I cried watching. It pulls to mind the forms of violence that I’ve personally experienced in my attempt to understand this. Her death is like domestic abuse.

    When I was a young teenager, my father beat me, threw me up against a wall, and kicked me until I could not move. My mother and sister stood by watching, and when I began to cry, my mother said: “Why are you crying? It is your fault.”

    When Farkhunda fell to the ground, she cried out. But why are you crying out to Allah, Farkhunda? You deserve this. You burnt the Qu’ran. This is your fault.

    My heart is broken for her. She was killed by her own people, by her family, like a teenager trying to differentiate from her parents by rebelliously destroying an amulet. She died for her faith and by the hands of family’s.

    It is sickening. The way that religion acts as a vehicle extending family dynamics is terrifying. We can’t keep saying that the Muslim world is not affected by its religion.

    1. You are an inspiration, Charleen, for having found the courage to undergo such horrors and to come out the other side the stronger for it. And for using that strength to share your story.

    2. I’m so sorry to read that, Charleen.

      Re Farkhunda, violent “punishments” for “crimes” of blasphemy, apostasy, and so on can have no justification outside religion. (Although I dare say accusations often fly for non-religious reasons.)


    3. I’m so sorry to hear that, Charleen. You are a remarkable exemplar of overcoming a tragically dysfunctional family!

      1. @Diana, Ken, and Ant: Thanks 🙂

        What I make from this is that, since it was possible for me to survive the emotional torrents of abuse and religion, there is hope for people trying to leave Islam. It is possible to let go and leave religion’s family-type clutches behind. It is possible to thrive. Many don’t know this and many aren’t willing to find out. Sadly, Farkhunda never got the chance to get away. . .

    1. Maybe so, Carl. But Sam Harris has also found the evil done in the name of supposedly sacred scripture to be a topic worthy of continuing exegesis over the course of several full-length books.

      So I’m uncertain his analysis would be quite so gnomic.

  13. The atrocities and injustices committed by the religious in the past have shocked me, made me angry, made me sad, made me despair.

    But watching that video made me feel physically sick.

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