If one advocates the reformation of the blasphemy law in Pakistan the response from the general masses is predictable; angry mobs chanting slogans can be expected, politicians frothing at the mouth will be seen and threats to the speaker’s safety are inevitable. This immense outpouring of rage is not restricted to blasphemy – this righteous ire befalls the restaurant who is open for business in Ramadan, the isolated wine shop owner, the creator of misguided YouTube videos or innocent couples in public parks. The Pakistani public, and the politicians who represent them, are quick to take offense where religion is concerned, even when the offense is non-existent or does not affect them directly. This outrage is not a superficial registration of protest, full blooded riots which often lead to injuries and fatalities are the norm. Yet this all consuming outrage seems highly selective, while the smallest transgressions of the West are picked on, the factual and immense oppression faced by Muslim’s in other countries are quietly ignored – of course it helps when that country is investing vast amounts of capital in your state.

China has banned civil servants, students and teachers from fasting during the month of Ramadan and restaurants are ordered to remain open in Xinjiang region in southern China. This is not a one-off event, the restive province has seen strictly enforced religious repression; veils and beards are banned, Islamic literature is thoroughly monitored and shopkeepers are forced to display alcohol in shop windows. China claims to be combating extremism, but its actions are clearly heavy-handed and over the board. Yet our esteemed religious party leaders and firebrand clerics are silent when it comes to this vast and immediate denial of human rights, while finding ways to criticize everything from modern-attired women to ‘vulgar’ billboards. What is the cause for this hypocrisy? China is a vital trade partner and a strategic ally, and therefore we are required to turn blind eye towards any atrocities that it might commit? This might explain why the government – which is very vocal about far flung Muslim conflicts, such as Palestine and Myanmar – has not even mentioned this fact in public, but it does not explain why the cleric or religious party that has no stake in national policy making stays quite. Perhaps their outrage is reserved for incidents where they are to gain; be it in the form of land snatched from the evicted Ahmedi family or the fear created through a riot. Whatever the reason may be, the outrage remains hypocritical. In that vein the state should drop pretences of principle when it condemns vested interests of other states, such as Israel and the US; by refusing to talk about Xinjiang, the government is display the same partiality it often condemns.