In a rare (read: boss) move, Afghan women defied tradition this Sunday when they bore the coffin of 27-year-old Farkhunda who was attacked and murdered by a mob of men upon allegations of burning the Quran. The coffin is traditionally carried by the male relatives of the deceased.
Farkhunda was set on fire and subsequently thrown into a river by about 500 men after incited by a religious leader. Investigations have since revealed that such allegations are untrue.
The brutal murder led to great backlash from women's rights activists in Afghanistan, and also brought in condemnation from the President. However, one religious cleric defended the killing, declaring that the men had the right to kill Farkhunda if they wished to defend their faith. Maulana Niazi, a prayer leader in Kabul also endorsed her death.
"Be careful O people! It will be a big mistake if they [perpetrators] were sent to the jail," Niazi warned," The people will stand against this and then they cannot be controlled."
Women mourned the death of Farkhunda with chants of "We want justice". Also present was the inconsolable family of Farkhunda, who demanded a comprehensive investigation into the matter. Hus brother dispelled any rumors of Farkhunda being mentally unstable. He said that his sister was a devout Muslim, who had been a teacher of religious studies.
Farkhunda was laid to rest on Sunday, amid tears and wails. Her death may have however, set off an unusual movement for equality in the male-dominant, conservative society of Afghanistan.