Having fled their homes in the latest spasm of Pakistani religious strife, a few hundred Christians have camped in a forest in the Pakistani capital, cut down trees and are using the branches to build a church.
Their ordeal began when a Christian girl in their poor Islamabad neighbourhood was accused by a neighbour of burning pages of the Quran — a blasphemy by Pakistani law that can mean life in prison.
A week after the girl’s arrest, much remains in question: her age — 11 to 16 in conflicting reports; mental condition — Down syndrome has been mentioned; and what exactly she was burning — there’s little evidence that Quran pages were involved.
But as word spread, hundreds of people gathered outside her house demanding action, and on Aug 20 police arrested the girl pending an investigation.
Most Christians in the neighbourhood fled — some 600 families according to one interfaith group. Some said their landlords evicted them. A few have returned. — Photos and text by Agencies
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