The heartbreaking Death of Farkhunda
by Rahela Hashim Sidiqi
The traditional celebration of Nowruz (New Year) is celebrated widely in Afghanistan. At its heart is a traditional table setting known as Haft-Seen that features seven foods beginning with the letter ‘s’. Rahela was happily getting ready for the event – cleaning her lovely home, getting special clothes ready for the little children and preparing the festive food.
“I wanted 1394 to be different from past years of heartbreak. I wanted it to start with happiness. We had so much to celebrate – our wonderful life, harmonious family and new hope for the future of our country. But then I heard the dreadful news and silently cried NO, NO, NO! I couldn’t stop my self . . . such pain and horror that the last days of 1393 should end with the frenzied killing of young Farkhunda.
It ended with blood, dust, and the smoke of Farkhunda’s dead body; the murder of a girl killed by wild and inhuman men who called themselves Muslims but knew nothing about Islam.
Some of those people were Taweez (charm) writers from the Shahi Do Shamshira Shrine. Taweez, or Jadogar in Farsi, translates as ‘magic’ in English. The wicked people who write these nonsense charms abuse the name of Allah and Islam, by convincing simple-minded people that such magic will cure sickness or resolve problems for them.
Farkhunda was a devout Muslim girl, well educated in the ways of Islam – at 27 she was too young to die! And for what? Simply for trying to persuade women not to put their trust in misleading charms like tawez and jado. Farkhunda did not understand the danger of saying this when surrounded by wild, illiterate people.
They knew nothing about true Islam. Their faces had been turned to evil. When these sinful people started shouting, “She has learned from America! She is an American spy!” Farkhunda said, “Be quiet, I will give a lesson to you and to the Americans!”
When a man shouted, “Why did you burn the Quran, why did you burn the Quran?” the cry was taken up by others and there were calls for her to be taken out of the shrine and punished.
Suddenly Farkhunda found herself being dragged from the shrine by hundreds of wild, angry men.
In minutes that must have felt like hours to Farkhunda, these men dragged her into the street, kicking her and raining blows on her.
She screamed in protest that she had never burned the Quran. “No! No! Don’t beat me my brothers, I didn’t burn Quran,” she protested, but there was no one defended her or heeded her screams.
She was stamped flat on the dirt floor like a carpet. Blood covered her body but still the depraved crowd beat her with wooden sticks and rocks.
Unbelievably this took place in front of a Government security post and was watched by police who stood by and did nothing.
Farkhunda’s modest Islamic dress was ripped into shreds and her back laid bare – a final indignity for this innocent girl.
These men knew that the body of a Muslim woman should not be exposed, or her head uncovered, but they didn’t care about the rules of Islam. In their frenzy and bloodlust they showed no concern about her headscarf or clothing, only about kicking her defenceless body and causing pain.
A car was driven over her blood soaked body, wounded and brutalised by wood and stone; still alive she was tossed into the river like garbage – then most shocking still, she was burned like coal.
Farkhunda was not able to move but her broken heart was still beating, as though angels were keeping her alive. But still these cruel men were not satisfied; using their coats and jackets to fuel the flames they built a fire as yellow as the sun and watched as she burned and burned.
At last her pain ended and her ruined body was left like a piece of coal at the bank of the river.
Farkhunda’s shocking death was a stark reminder to Afghanistan and societies throughout the world, that Governments who claim to stand for justice have a duty to punish such crimes, especially when they involve perversion of religion and the abuse of innocents like Farkhunda.
By Rahela Hashim Sidiqi
3 April 2015
A POEM FOR FARKUNDA
The following poem was written by 11-year-old Rasheell H. Barikzai It is published here, as written, using the voice of Farkhunda: