Fact Check-Graphic image does not show female pilot being stoned to death in Afghanistan in 2021

A graphic photograph that purports to show a female pilot being stoned to death in Afghanistan in 2021 is miscaptioned. The image is of Farkhunda Malikzada who was falsely accused of burning the Koran and was murdered in 2015.

The image is circulating on social media with text that reads: “Sayifa Firozi [sic], one of the four lady pilots of the Afghan Air Force. Stoned to death in public this morning.”

Examples of the social media posts are viewable (graphic warning) (here), (here), (here), and (here).

The photograph is not recent, however, and was published in The Times in May 2015 in an article regarding Malikzada’s murder in Kabul (here). It was also published in videos released by Al Jazeera and The New York Times (graphic warning) (here), (here).

A Human Rights Watch report released in 2016 said that the murder of 27-year-old Malikzada demonstrated a failure to advance women’s rights in Afghanistan, despite repeated government pledges (here).

The image resurfaced in 2021 amid growing concerns over women’s rights in Afghanistan after the Taliban took control of the government (here).

Safia Ferozi became the country’s second female pilot in 2016, according to a report by the Associated Press (here) (here).

No credible news sources have reported that Ferozi had been injured or hurt at the time of publication.


Miscaptioned. The photograph used in the claims is not of a female pilot in Afghanistan and is not recent. The image is of Farkhunda Malikzada who was murdered in 2015 after being falsely accused of burning the Koran.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .