Four of the men convicted for the brutal murder of a mentally-ill woman who was being falsely accused by an angry mob for burning a Quran, had their sentences overturned Wednesday. The men’s sentences were reduced to 20 years, however, a local district police chief was acquitted. The intermediate appeals court decision can be appealed to the country’s Supreme Court, a move the family of the killed women, identified as Farkhunda, wants to see happen. A woman’s rights activist, Wazhma Frogh told NBC news “They made the decision under pressure from religious extremists and powerful circles”. According to a report in the New York times:

[In May, the court issued death sentences for four men: the shrinekeeper who appeared to have sealed Farkhunda’s fate with his accusation and three other men in the mob believed to have been among her most vicious assailants. That trial also resulted in eight other defendants receiving prison terms of 16 years.

But this week — most likely on Wednesday, although the timing is unclear — an appellate court overturned those death sentences in a proceeding that Farkhunda’s advocates have described as secret and possibly the result of political meddling.]

We do not have a problem with the death sentence being overturned only because we are opposed to the imposition of death sentence, under all circumstances, anywhere. Twenty years is a serious sentence. We continue to be greatly disturbed by the extreme views held by religious zealots all over the world. Particular to this case, we were greatly angered by the mob’s crazy and deadly reaction to a mentally- troubled young woman’s innocent acts. We simply cannot understand why humans will kill another solely because they do not share the same religious beliefs. Why is it that humans cannot (or at least refuse to) respect the religious worshipping of others, and still live among one another harmoniously? Until this happens, there will be no true peace in this world. Even to a lesser degree, religion factors into many aspects of our lives, and laws are regularly passed in the spirit of religious theism. It is critical to strengthen the separation between religious activists and their doctrines, and the law of the land; otherwise, wars and deaths will continue to rage, and peace will continue to be illusive.  People must choose to live their religious lives separately, or needlessly die jointly solely in the name of religion. Some say the very nature of religious belief is rooted in fear and violence- you would think, that after all these years, humans have mentally evolved to the point where tolerance and religion could coexist, and acts of compassion and kindness would prevail, but religion appears to forbid such nonsense.

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