This is horrifying. Nushin Arbabzadah says religious violence has become normalized in Afghanistan.
The brutal lynching of Farkhunda, has revealed a number of significant issues regarding the state of Islam in Afghanistan.
The most crucial is that a fanatic strand of Islamic has become normalized, and accepted by a mainstream audience. The imam who incited the violence, the mob who lynched Farkhunda, the bystanders who filmed it — they were not the disenfranchised. They were ordinary Afghans, members of the middle class, including shop keepers. The initial public reaction was approval, expressed by public figures representing the spheres of culture and education.
They included a female deputy culture minister, who said, in reference to the murder, that nothing can stand in the way of the pure faith of the people. Rahel Musavi, a presenter on Tamadon TV, provided another public message of support saying, “She deserved to burn in the fire of the people’s anger.” And then there was the sermon of the imam, Ayaz Niazi, whose message can be summed up as follows: The people who killed Farkhunda were correct and the police have no right to arrest them. If they do, the people have the right to stage an uprising.
That kind of thing makes me absolutely despair of human beings. Educated people think deference to religion matters more than not setting a woman on fire.
A key characteristic of this version of Islam is that is encourages lawlessness. Niazi told the mosque audience, that their religious sensitivity is the supreme source of legitimacy, overriding the legitimacy of the state and law enforcement. But to what extent? According to the sermon, it would seem that the believer is entitled to kill first and ask questions later. Even if it turns out that the believer was wrong, the supremacy of his religious emotions are such that police has no right to arrest him. In other words, religious sentiment, not religion, is the supreme force and the prime source of legitimacy in Afghanistan. This was what Niazi was endorsing.
And she adds that he’s considered a moderate Muslim.
Many Afghans continue to believe that the supreme law is their own religious emotions. This belief is not natural, it’s carefully cultivated and sustained through collective effort. Some comply out of fear, others out of populist motivation, others because they are ignorant. Afghan activists are some of the few who have opposed the message. In return, they have received threats. The nature of these threats is summed up by the following statement that a TV personality working for a religious channel said that Farkhunda’s burning will be a lesson to the other whores.
Yes, it’s definitely a lesson to us whores.