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Afghanistan: Protesters march in Kabul for Farkhunda, young woman beaten to death

Scores of people have protested in Afghanistan's capital Kabul against the lynching of a young woman. Last week a mob beat 27-year-old Farkhunda to death, after she was falsely accused of burning the Koran.

An estimated 200 people gathered on Monday in Kabul to demand those responsible for Farkhunda's murder to be held to account.

"We demand that the government ensure that all those involved are arrested and that they face an open trial so justice is implemented and they become an example for others," a woman named Palwasha, who described herself as a social activist, said.

Farkhunda, who like many people in Afghanistan go by a single name, was beaten to death, burned and thrown into the Kabul River by an angry crowd on Thursday for allegedly burning a copy of the Koran, Islam's holy book. The attack was caught on cell phone cameras and the footage has been widely spread on social media.

The demonstrators marched in the area where the attack began near the Shah-Do Shamshera mosque, and the route where Farkhunda's body was dragged towards the Kabul River. Activists also planted a pine tree at the spot on the riverbank where her body was set alight, according to the Associated Press. Many of the women in the crowd wore masks created from a photo of Farkhunda's battered face which has been circulating on social media.

"That people are comfortable being filmed while committing a murder like this in daylight is a symptom of the culture of impunity," activist Ramin Anwari said.

'Farkhunda was innocent'

Farkhunda's father said his daughter was a scholar of Islam and insisted she did not burn the holy book. During questioning in Afghanistan's parliament, interior minister Noorulhaq Ulumi told lawmakers the accusation against the young woman was completely invalid.

"Farkhunda was a religious girl, she was not involved (in burning the Koran), she was innocent... It is very painful that we were not able to protect a pious young person," he said.

Her funeral was held on Sunday, during which women defied tradition by carrying her coffin. Activists have vowed to maintain pressure on the authorities to act against violence towards women in the country.

Arrests and suspensions

Police have been criticized for not doing enough to stop the attack. The district's police chief and 12 other officers have been suspended over the death. More than a dozen other people have also been arrested.

Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani, who is currently visiting the United States, condemned the killing and ordered an investigation.

se/jr (AP, AFP, dpa)

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