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Woman Pilot Stoned to Death in Afghanistan? No, This Image Is Old

The 2015 photograph shows Farkhunda Malikzade's fatal lynching after being falsely accused of burning the Quran.

Published
WebQoof
3 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>The photo is from 2015 and shows the fatal lynching of Farkhunda Malikzade.</p></div>
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A graphic photo of a bloodied woman dressed in black is going viral across social media platforms to claim that she is an Afghan Air Force pilot who was 'stoned to death this morning' as Taliban has taken over the control of the country.

It comes in the backdrop of rising concerns regarding women’s rights and freedom. The post identifies the woman as Safiya Firozi.

The photo, however, is from an incident in 2015 when a 27-year-old woman named Farkhunda was lynched by a mob after she was falsely accused of burning pages from the Quran, a holy book in Islam.

CLAIM

The graphic photo is being shared with text, which reads, “Safiya Firozi, one of the four lady pilots of the Afghan Air Force. Stoned to death in public this morning.”

<div class="paragraphs"><p>An archived version of this tweet can be accessed <ins><a href="https://archive.ph/xHIJg">here</a></ins>.</p></div>

An archived version of this tweet can be accessed here.

(Source: Screenshot/Twitter)

The screenshot of this tweet by user Eugene Sangeet Sagar, which was later taken down, is now being widely shared on Facebook.

More claims on Twitter can be seen here, here and here. The Quint received queries regarding the claim on its WhatsApp tipline as well.

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WHAT WE FOUND

Using reverse image search, we found the photograph on a blog called Belfast Child, which identified the woman as Farkhunda Malikzada.

We looked up the woman’s name on Google and found an article published on an Afghan political party’s website. The report on the Solidarity Party of Afghanistan’s page commemorated the third year of Farkhunda’s lynching and was published in 2018, implying that the violent act took place in 2015.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>The protester's placards carried the photo from the claim.</p></div>

The protester's placards carried the photo from the claim.

(Source: Hambastagi.org/Screenshot)

Further, we found a video report about the incident by the The New York Times published on 26 December 2015, titled “The Killing Of Farkhunda”.

The full report contains graphic scenes of violence and brutality, and one frame around the 4-minute mark from the video was similar to the photo used in the claim.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>The frame matched the photo in the claim.</p></div>

The frame matched the photo in the claim.

(Photo: New York Times/Screenshot)

The report noted that Farkhunda had been falsely accused of burning pages of the Quran and was lynched by a frenzied mob of over 100 men, who also accused her being an 'American sympathiser' or a French agent.

We looked up 'Safiya Firozi' and found a news report by Hindustan Times from 2016, which spoke about her being the second woman pilot in the Afghan Air Force.

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It added that Ferozi and her family had fled Kabul in the 1990s and returned after the Taliban fell in 2001. Since we did not come across any recent news reports about Captain Ferozi, we could not independently verify her current status or whereabouts.

Evidently, the woman in the viral claim is not Ferozi, but is Farkhunda Malikzade, a woman who was lynched in Afghanistan in 2015.

(Not convinced of a post or information you came across online and want it verified? Send us the details on WhatsApp at 9643651818, or e-mail it to us at webqoof@thequint.com and we'll fact-check it for you. You can also read all our fact-checked stories here.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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