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Citizen's Revolt in Afghanistan


Citizen's Revolt in Afghanistan

Ann Jones

I went to Kabul, Afghanistan, in March to see old friends. By chance, I arrived the day after a woman had been beaten to death and burned by a mob of young men. The world would soon come to know her name: Farkhunda. The name means “auspicious” or “jubilant.” She was killed in the very heart of the Afghan capital, at a popular shrine, the burial place of an unnamed ghazi, a warrior martyred for Islam.


“Within hours, everyone knew that the murder of Farkhunda was nothing like so many other commonplace acts of violence in Kabul. It was not an act of war, nor was it terrorism, nor political assassination. It was not a revenge killing, nor an honor killing, nor a family murder. In broad daylight, at a popular shrine, a mob of ordinary young men had murdered a young woman unknown to them with their fists and feet and whatever weapons came to hand.”

I would not be so quick to disconnect dots, Ms. Jones.

There is raging misogyny breaking out in too many places: from Mexico’s border district where the bodies of young women are frequently found, to U.S. college campuses where rape is prolific; to acts like these.

Men who feel a loss of power–and it typically comes from both a lack of monetary power and the corresponding reduced sense of personal sovereignty that that entails–and those who live in lands occupied by outside dominant forces–often take out their rage on women.

Secondly, there certainly IS a massive desire for revenge swirling inside all of the Arab and Middle East nations that have been senselessly bludgeoned with a program of anti-terrorism the rationale. it’s obvious that the more outside forces destroy other peoples’ lands, the greater the probability that angry men will become ad hoc soldiers or that mob actions will create their own infernos of rage.

How different is this from the Nobel Prize winner shot in the face for daring to demand education for girls, or Anita Sarkeesian facing death threats for exposing the casual nature of rabid violence directed at females in popular video games; or Gabrielle Giffords getting shot in the face for seeking to restrict certain gun ownership laws?

Do connect the dots… otherwise you’re thinking like a male processed by patriarchy’s “separation of disciplines,” a sure way not to see the necessary connections.

War is to patriarchy what sex is to marriage. And war fever has been fanned into a firestorm brutally encircling this once green planet.


“A number of government officials immediately turned to Facebook to endorse the murder, assuming that if the Quran-burning woman were not actually American, her ideas must have been so.”

"The Deputy Minister for Culture and Information Simin Ghazal Hasanzada also approved the execution of a woman “working for the infidels.”

These quotes reveal something typical to those in power. They latch onto a story that blames the victim. Notice that currently, the female States’ attorney who’s bringing charges against Baltimore’s racist, rabid cops is being threatened, asked to resign, and possibly sued.

The existing power structure, like rotting infrastructure argues for itself. Instead of owning its corruptions and the horrors that its disproportionate reliance on force gives rise to, it’s always ready with a narrative claiming the victim deserved their fate.

I have only read one-third of this horrifying narrative and it’s difficult to read on, and almost as difficult to tolerate an idiot like BinBanned who has obviously not read this report… but still posts 5th grade commentary.


I applaud your taking part in the demonstrations, Ms. Jones.

“Now, with the death of Farkhunda, Kabul’s civil society took to the streets to reveal what the real contest has been all along: a struggle between ultraconservative Islamist mullahs and warlords, clinging not just to faith but to power, and progressive Islamic men and women intent on moving Afghanistan into the modern world. Not the secular world of the West, but a new Afghan world that would reclaim the old prewar values of a peaceful, humane, more equitable and tolerant Islam.”

If a more humane Islam should arise, then this young woman was its martyr.

What is curious is that your article doesn’t mention the FACT that women had served as doctors, teachers, professors and lived relatively free lives prior to the U.S. invasion to arguably get the Soviets out decades ago.

Ms. Magazine ran poignant articles about women, displaced from their hard-won and necessary careers, who all felt like they were subdued by relative house arrest.

I think this aspect of the back-story is very relevant and needs to be stated. When people have a memory of greater freedom it’s virtually impossible to keep them satisfied with enslavement" cultural, religious, political, and/or economic in nature.


Now Ms. Jones gets to the grit of the issue. Thank you for stating this; and it bears repeating:

"That “culture of impunity” didn’t materialize from thin air. Nor was it a necessary consequence of the “culture of violence” instilled by the long wars. Rather, it had been cultivated for a decade by a government that simply took no notice of the slaughter of women. Indifference amounted to policy and was implicitly affirmed by the United States in 2011 when Washington’s aid agency, USAID, dropped “gender issues” to the bottom of its list of priorities, while an anonymous State Department spokesman joked about jettisoning aid projects intended to support and defend women. “All those pet rocks in our rucksack,” he said, “were taking us down.”


Reading her writings is almost being there. What gets me in this particular article (as if I need a reminder as to what the U.S. did to destroy the country, rule of law, traditions,etc.), is how you could substitute almost anywhere in the article “U.S” for Afghanistan, or Baltimore/Chicago/Ferguson/St.Louis/Los Angeles/NYC, etc.) for Kabul. The Evangelicals, Far Righters, NeoCons, Tea Partiers, multiple Cheney’s/Koch’s ad nauseum, have taken us to this place where it’s very difficult to see the difference between some sort of Stasi Police State, Third World Banana Republic, and suppressed Free Press/Free Speech–In fact the last two seem to have fallen into realm of thought crimes and domestic terrorism (which is where activism, protests, and dissent now reside). At some point when “we’ve” had enough, I suppose we’ll rise up and take back our country from these religious Zealots and sociopaths.


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I could have researched a long time and not learned as much about Afghanis as from this excellent piece. Sounded so hopeful at the top only to end with the Sufi version of “Meet the new boss…”

Be safe Ms. Jones. What an honest piece of recounting.

edit: Farkhunda was a devout Muslim with aspirations of becoming a scholar and teacher, difficult and dangerous for a woman. By confronting the male janitor it seems she was willing to jump that fence. I wonder if she left anything in writing that would suggest how she would have reacted to the circumstances of her brutal murder.


I don’t know how firmly wedded you are to the sentiment you expressed, but this article alone suggests a broader understanding. There are, and always have been, elements of reform and moderation in Islam. Notice the pattern of US subsidizing the religious zealots at the expense of the moderating factions. Prior to the '52 Iran coup that nation had evolved its own unique mix of secular government, monarchy, and theism. That coup broke the democratic secular government, re-installed a brutal monarch who became hated and despised, and led to the Islamic Revolution.

“This woman is an American and she burned a Quran.” Which part of that cunning murderous deceit do you suppose inflamed the mob more?


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Glad I slowed down and re-read your post several times. Yeah, war brings out the worst in everyone. And who can say what direction the Imams, Caliphs, Ayatollahs and Mahdis would have taken in the absence of exploitative colonialism by the Christian west. Curious about the parallels between the Christian evolved notions of “just war,” “holy war’” and “crusade” and Islamic ideas embedded in “jihad” I found a 2008 paper by an Islamic scholar “Theories of Just War in Islam.” The author correctly states that to begin it’s necessary to understand what was before Mohammed and the Quran. He cited a passage in Deuteronomy from the Torah that both codified the justification for war and the conduct during war. Not superstitious but coldly vicious, violent and misogynistic.

The western tradition has secularized the notion of just war and with the declaration that war is the summation of all evils and is to be avoided always, has squeezed the notion of just cause very narrowly. But there’s theory and treaty and then there’s reality. Almost all military actions by the US since 1945 fail to attain the level of just cause according to international law, this period of Pax Americana. It is a matter of ongoing debate what the face of Pax Islam should ever look like.

The paper goes on to say that the evolution of thinking by Islamic scholars, especially in the Shia tradition, and as in the western tradition, leads to an inherent or implied, or pre-emptive pacifism. Appeasement is even considered as a sometimes acceptable alternative to defensive warfare if that will avoid a greater evil. The possible bias of the author has to be noted though as he is an academic in the Khomeini Institute in Iran.

All of human ancestry is as you say, but it is not only and always. No religionist, I do think it’s better to try to understand than just dismiss. Emancipation, universal suffrage, and the social safety net were not intended by the “founding fathers” yet were achieved anyhow. And colonialism, as it always does, re-directs the development of the colonized.


Horrible. God help them all if the Taliban takes control again, which looks likely.


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