A self-proclaimed mullah in Afghanistan, who allegedly filmed himself having sex with women, is on the run after the videos went viral on social media, prompting religious leaders to order his death by stoning.
Mullah Rasool, a traditional healer who wrote amulets for clients in a village in the northwestern province of Faryab, is accused of sexually exploiting and raping several women who had gone to him for help.
Rasool, whose nickname is Landay, which means “Shorty” in Pashto, allegedly used the videos to blackmail the women.
A number of videos began circulating on social media in recent weeks, but it is not clear when they were made or if they were filmed in Rasool’s village of Chinar in Pashtunkot district. In one video posted on Facebook, a bearded and turbaned man purported to be Rasool is seen loosening his white baggy trousers, clearly aroused.
A young woman, still wearing her long dress and headscarf, removes her trousers and lies on a large floor cushion where they have sex.
While the identities of the women are not yet known, their faces are visible in the videos, which have been viewed tens of thousands of times, raising fears for their safety in the deeply religious country.
“We predict there will be honor killings,” said Faryab governor spokesman Jawed Bidar.
Provincial women’s affairs department head Sharifa Azimi said the women had been “tricked” and has urged religious leaders to tell their worshippers that they are “innocent victims, not bad women.”
“We are very worried that they will be murdered,” Azimi told AFP.
The body of a woman was found dumped in a ditch near Chinar village several days ago, but it has not yet been identified, Azimi added.
Faryab’s top religious leaders have sentenced Rasool to death by stoning. “If the government arrests and punishes him, okay, otherwise the people are also after this guy and will stone him to death,” said Ghulam Nabi Ghafori, deputy head of the provincial Ulema Council.
The videos and whereabouts of Rasool have become a major topic of conversation in Afghanistan where sex is a taboo subject and women are largely treated as second-class citizens. Much of the commentary on social media has targeted Rasool, who has been described as “Satan” and a “porn star.” There have been calls for him to be hanged and his genitals cut off.
But the scandal has also inspired a spoof on a popular television comedy show in which a character portraying Rasool fondles a male actor dressed up as a woman.
Traditional healers are much revered in the ultra conservative countryside, where illiteracy remains rampant. A lack of conventional health services forces many to rely on healers for a variety of problems—from debilitating maladies and infertility to finding stolen items and reuniting lost lovers.
To help police track down Rasool, provincial governor Naqibullah Faiq is offering his own car as a reward to anyone with information leading to his arrest. “He will be arrested. He has no place abroad,” Faiq told a recent gathering.