A mob of men begin lynching an Afghan woman in the capital Kabul.

An Afghan woman was brutally beaten to death and then burned by a bloodthirsty crowd made up almost entirely of men in Kabul last Thursday. Gruesome footage has emerged of the mob lynching 27-year-old Farkhunda who was accused of burning a Koran near a mosque. The attack has triggered a wave of indignation throughout the country.

Her slow death lasted nearly two hours. Farkhunda's horrific ordeal started in a mosque located in a heavily populated area of the capital: key government buildings including the presidential palace and the interior ministry lie nearby in a heavily secured area. The city's chief of police insists that officers arrived after she was killed. Yet videos taken at the scene appear to contradict his version of events. In one, policemen stand by while groups of men continue beating her. It's only after the arrival of reinforcements that they finally begin dispersing the mob. According to the country's interior minister, four people suspected of having taken part in the murder have been arrested. One even claimed responsibility for the act and congratulated himself on his Facebook page.

There are no videos that show precisely how the young woman found herself at the hands of the vicious mob. But the grotesque lynching that followed was filmed by several people. Given the violent nature of the images, France 24 has decided only to publish screenshots taken from the video. In one such clip, the 27-year-old can be seen lying on her stomach while men mercilessly pelt her with wooden sticks and large stones. Yet even after a few minutes, Farkhunda is still alive. In another video - filmed moments later - her body is burnt on the banks of the river that cuts across the capital. This time, an even bigger crowd watches the macabre sight of a young woman being literally reduced to ashes.
Farkhundah after having been beaten by the mob.
 
Local media outlets and social media networks reported that the woman had burned a Koran. Yet Afghanistan's Religious Affairs Minister dismissed the story, citing a lack of evidence. Her parents at first claimed that Farkhunda had been suffering from a mental disorder and had sought help from local worshippers at the mosque. But they later backpedalled, claiming that they came up with the story in order to "protect her".

Mariam Abou Zahab, a specialist of Afghanistan and Pakistan, says she doesn't recall any other cases of women being publically lynched and burned in the country. She explains that in neighbouring Pakistan,  men accused of insulting Islam have been lynched by uncontrollable mobs. On many occasions, the accusations turned out to be false and were simple cases of score-settling.

 
The woman was attacked near security headquarters. 

"I was completely devastated by this lynching "

Blogger and feminist Omin Haqbin says he was completely shocked by the spectacle of the young woman being beaten to death.
 
 
This lynching was completely devastating to see. My friends and I have been in a state of shock for over a day. Some of us even cried. We've been asking ourselves how things could have come to this point. What worries me the most is that many people justify the lynching. Not really those on Facebook: most of them have been showing their solidarity with Farkhunda. They've published messages on their walls or posted photos that say "I am Farkhunda". But the ones who justify the gruesome attack are people in the street: ordinary people; those I spoke with this morning; uneducated people who don't have access to Facebook. I think continuous wars in Afghanistan have given rise to this kind of mentality. They grew up during times of war. All they know is violence.

 
The young woman's body is burnt in the presence of policemen.

"Police officers at the scene did nothing to protect her"

The officers who were at the scene did nothing to protect her. Policemen are often uneducated. Generally speaking, people who don't manage to find work end up working as police officers. They were on the scene but they almost certainly shared the mob's point of view. Police reinforcements did indeed arrive later, but they arrived far too late. Farkhunda was already dead.
 
I heard people saying that it was better to lynch her because they don't have any confidence in the effectiveness of the country's legal institutions. They claim that they would've let her go free. For them, she burned the Koran so she had to pay for it. And for all that, there's no proof that she actually did burn a Koran. The Afghan TV channel TOVO TV claimed last Friday that she had burned prayers written in Dari [Editor's note: a dialect of Persian spoken in Afghanistan] that worshippers whom she had met had given to her.


Solidarity campaign for Farkhunda on Facebook.

"I'm scared of what is happening to Afghan society"
 
Now I'm scared of what is happening to Afghan society. I would be too scared to even go protest in the street. One of my friends told me that she had been attacked in the street because she wasn't wearing a dress that conformed to "Islamic standards". The man said to her: "Dress properly, otherwise we'll burn you like we burned Farkhunda." It's extremely difficult to be a woman in Afghanistan. My fiancée is constantly harassed in the street. Women are often raped. And for those who aren't religious, it's harder still. Secularists and atheists have no way of getting themselves heard. The situation has only gotten worse since 2008.


 
A man celebrates the death of the young woman on his Facebook page. "We killed her and she'll go to hell". He claimed these photos showed a burned Koran. He is one of the suspects that police have arrested.
 
 
Post written by France 24 journalists Dorothée Myriam KELLOU and Ershad ALIJANI.