Afghan Clerics Uneasy as Civil Rights Movement Gains Momentum

Powerful religious leaders in Afghanistan are growing uneasy about the challenge to their authority posed by rare civil rights protests in Kabul and widespread anger over the lynching of a young woman wrongly accused of burning a Koran. The highest religious authority, the Ulema Council, exerts considerable influence in a country that remains deeply conservative despite significant changes since the hardline Islamist Taliban fell in 2001. But a series of demonstrations in the capital Kabul promoting women's rights has prompted the clerics to threaten to withdraw support for President Ashraf Ghani in a challenge to his new government.