A scene from the re-enactment of Farkundha's killing. Photos published by activists on Facebook.

A little over a month ago, Farkundha, a 27-year-old student, was killed by a mob in the middle of Kabul in broad daylight. She had been falsely accused of burning a Koran. Monday, she was killed again, in the very same spot. But this time, it was symbolic; Farkundha and her attackers were all actors.

The videos of this re-enactment are chilling. The actors are convincing, and the pain of the woman who plays Farkundha looks real. But instead of burning her to death, as her real attackers did, the actors covered her in ashes - she then emerged, to the crowd’s cheers.

Video courtesy of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

The re-enactment was part of commemorations held on the 40th day after Farkundha’s death, during which demonstrators called on the authorities to bring her attackers to justice. Hours later, charges were announced against 49 participants in the killing. Nineteen of those charged are police officers who were accused of failing to stop the crime. In videos of the attack, policemen can be seen standing idly by.

“I saw many people crying – even police officers”

Leena Alam is a professional actress who played the role of Farkundha.

Playing Farkundha was very difficult, but very important to me. Like many other women in Kabul, I took part in the protests that followed her death and wanted to make sure those responsible were held accountable.

The re-enactment was a last-minute idea. We decided that we just wanted to show the people of Kabul exactly what happened, so that they couldn’t forget how horrible it was. We only had a few days to practice, but we did so intensively. We wanted it to be as realistic as possible.

In the crowd, I saw many people crying – even police officers. I also noticed that many people were filming… Just like many people were filming while Farkundha was being killed. It was an eerie feeling.

Rising from the ashes. 
"Extremists criticised the fact that during some parts of the scene, I wasn't wearing a head scarf"

Afterwards, videos of the re-enactment were widely shared on social media, and received mostly positive reactions. However, some extremists criticised the fact that during some parts of the scene, I wasn’t wearing a head scarf. Well, yes… Farkundha’s scarf was torn off by her attackers!

There’s a voice in my head that tells me I should be fearful now, but there’s a louder voice that tells me to continue to speak out against violence. We live in a society where there are many uneducated extremists, and that’s scary, but that’s not an excuse for doing nothing. Society changes slowly, so we activists have to be patient and keep working.