More than anything else, the Muslim population around the world has been characterised by an indignant sense of fiery outrage. The image of a horde of bearded men, fists raised, chanting slogans has become a staple of news agencies around the world. This outrage seems infinite; the Danish cartoon saga brought out thousands to the streets, the French veil ban was met with similar sentiments and the ongoing Israel-Gaza episode is the latest event to incense emotions. Anything which is perceived to be a threat or attack against religion and its followers manages to catch the public’s fancy.

The city of Karamay, in China’s troubled Xinjiang province, has banned Uighur Muslims sporting veils, head scarfs, long beards and dresses displaying the crescent and the star from boarding public transport. Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia, the government has reportedly put restrictions on Saudi men marrying women belonging to Pakistan, Myanmar, Chad and Bangladesh. Surely, the collective moral police that manages to scrutinise everything from obscure videos on Youtube to drinking habits of government officials, will recognise massive curtailment of religious freedom next door or discrimination in the holy land. Yet, it appears there is a blind spot and it is big enough to hide both China and Saudi Arabia. The Pakistan public is really not offended, and if it is, it is doing a great job at hiding it unlike ever before. Why is that?

The fact is that our collective outrage is navigated by misguided notions of victimhood. A phrase which we hear far too often these days in reference to Gaza, “it’s not a Muslim issue, but a human rights issue”, proves to be untrue when we observe that the vast majority of conflicts and issues involving human rights violations are completely ignored. We’re all too familiar with people who remain uninterested in world affairs, but have undergone a transformation overnight to become ‘enlightened citizens’ of the world demanding justice for the victims of Gaza. Interestingly, such people are never prompted to crusade on Twitter and Facebook when ISIS butchers minorities in Iraq and Syria. They neither shed tears for the fallen of Gujranwala nor lose a night’s sleep over the atrocities committed by TTP, or Boko Haram. Simply put, these incidents do not neatly fit into our popular narrative of relentless oppression at the hands of our eternal enemies; the imperial West, the Hindu India and the conspiring Zionists. It’s not really a problem when our spiritual father nation Saudi Arabia or our staunch allies in China do it. No ‘clash of civilizations’ here, move on. As long as we continue to view human suffering through the lens of religion and nationality, our outrage will remain selective and hypocritical.