The photo above depicts Malalai Kakar, a pioneering female police officer who aided "victims of domestic violence, rape, and forced marriage" before the Taliban murdered her in 2008. Her photographer was shocked to find conservatives using the image this month in a viral anti-Muslim campaign.
Mother Jones, which originally published the photo as part of an award-nominated series in 2007, tells the sick sad story of how Lt. Colonel Kakar's image was removed from its original context to serve in a concocted Islamophobic fantasy:
Malalai Kakar was a police officer in Afghanistan. She was also a mother of six, a feminist, and a fearsome threat to the Taliban, who gunned her down in 2008. You would know some of Kakar's story if you'd come across Lana Šlezic's captivating photography of women in Afghanistan in Mother Jones and other publications. But the right-wing Britain First party recently co-opted a photo of Kakar—taken in 2005 just before she headed out on a raid to free a kidnap victim—using it as propaganda in the online "ban the burka" campaign. Its August 30 Facebook post using the image has been shared more than 44,000 times.
The "Britain First" party—formed three years ago by a bunch of hooligans who thought the quasi-fascist British National Party was too tame—literally wears black shirts and fancies itself as a Medieval Christian army, so it shouldn't be surprising that they'd neglect to worry about facts while slapping some bigoted bullshit text onto an appropriated image. Among its sharers: a sitting Australian senator, who refused to apologize for posting the pic, claimed Kakar would have agreed with her and said that Australia should ban burqas for the sake of "public safety."
Lana Šlezic, the photographer, has claimed copyright infringement—which seems to be working, since the Aussie senator has taken down her Facebook page with the image. Asked by Mother Jones for a reaction to the entire affair, Šlezic said she was appalled and then addressed the readers:
I'm asking you to lend your voice, your thoughts, your tweets and whatever else you can to send a message back to these people who without consent, without thought, without pause posted such a vulgar misappropriation of Malalai and everything she stood for. She was an extraordinary human being who fought for the rights of Afghan women and girls. Her memory should be respected.