Sunday, March 22, 2015
As thousands gathered to bury a woman who was beaten and burned by an angry mob, Afghan officials said that they had found no proof that she had burned pages of the Koran as her assailants had claimed
“We have reviewed all the evidence and have been unable to find any single iota of evidence to support claims that she had burned a Koran,” Gen. Mohammad Zahir, head of the Interior Ministry’s criminal investigation directorate, said at the woman’s funeral. “She is completely innocent.” Zahir’s comments followed the results of an investigation by the Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs that said that charred papers found at the shrine where she was attacked Thursday were from a Persian-language prayer book - not the Koran, the Muslim scripture, which is written in Arabic. The murdered woman was just 28-years-old and has been identified only by her first name, Farkhunda. Police had been criticized for not doing enough to control the mob of several hundred men who surrounded Farkhunda at the Shah-Do Shamshira shrine in Kabul and killed her. Hundreds more people gathered along the banks of the Kabul River to take pictures and videos of Farkhunda’s burning body, which was left in a dirt patch of the shallow river. When Farkhunda’s body was taken from her family’s house to the funeral, young men cried out, “Allahu Akbar!” - God is great - the same words her attackers used before beating her and running her body over with a car before setting it on fire. Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said that 13 police officials had been suspended. Thirteen suspects in the crime have been arrested, officials said. The mullah of the shrine, whom Farkhunda’s family has accused of burning the pages, has also been taken into custody, officials said. Mourners at the funeral also demanded that another religious leader, who praised the attackers during a sermon, be removed from his post at a mosque. Farkhunda’s relatives, who said that she suffered from mental illness, described their daughter as a devout Muslim who graduated from a local religious school and was preparing to begin classes in the Islamic Studies department of Kabul University.