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Pakistani Christians flee after girl accused of blasphemy


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"The people here are not extremists," said Asad Riaz, 30, sitting in the mosque Sunday evening, "but this has provoked them."

The imam sounded a note of conciliation, but with conditions. "It isn’t really those poor folks’ fault," Zubair said, "but we will wait and see what the official verdict against her is - and if they are guilty then decide accordingly."

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Over the weekend, residents of the Christian enclave began to migrate to other colonies in Islamabad, where they have remained. Authorities said they could not guarantee their safety if they return.

Some Christians who stayed in the area said shopkeepers are refusing to sell them food and have issued threats.

"They said they will burn our house down if we don’t leave," said 17-year-old Adnan, who lived next to the accused girl’s family. "They are also saying that since a woman burned the Koran they will come after our women now."

He and his cousin, perched nervously on a motorbike, would soon be migrating to Islamabad, too, they said, then took off into the night.




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