Kashmir's 'Rage Boy' Invites Humour, Mirth
30 June 2007
The Times of India
Washington DC: He's the angry, irate, face of Islamic fury; the poster child of Muslim protests. They are calling him the 'Rage Boy'. A Kashmiri protester who turns up at almost every major demonstration to express Islamist anger about real and perceived slights and has become photographers' favourite, is now a blog darling. No one knows his name, but bloggers have unearthed several news agency pictures of the same Srinagar-based man ranting in demonstrations against Danish cartoons, the Pope's swipe against Islam, terrorism in J&K, Israeli atrocities and sundry other issues. In each case, wire photographers take a close up of this bearded young man, eyes ablaze and fist gesticulating in a slogan shouting frenzy. His picture has turned up so frequently that 'Spotting the Islamic Rage Boy' has become a blogging pastime. 'Guess what? Islamic Rage Boy has been sighted again on Friday, June 22, the worldwide day of rage,' Snapped Shot, a blog dedicated to photojournalism, chortled last week. The blog directed readers to a familiar picture of the man it called a 'professional protester, jihadi-style' agitating in a Srinagar protest against knighthood for Salman Rushdie. The man's face has become so familiar that he's even engendered merchandise, with the firm Cafe Press issuing T-shirts and sweatshirts imprinted with his furious visage. The slogan on one T-shirt reads: 'Someone I love blew up a bunch of Infidels and all I received was this wretched, blood-soaked T-Shirt'. Rage Boy posters, mouse-pads, magnets, and tile coasters are also available. A Rage Boy clock has the following inscription: 'Question: What time is it, Rage Boy? Answer: Time to Die, Infidel.' 'Rage Boy' has now become such a cult figure that he's even attracted the attention of Christopher Hitchens, the iconoclastic British columnist, notorious for skewering Mother Teresa among others. In a 'Slate' magazine article, Hitchens refers to 'scenes from the strenuous life of a professional Muslim protester in Srinagar' and says over the last few years, 'There have been innumerable opportunities for him to demonstrate his piety and his pissed-offness.' 'And the cameras have been there for him every time. Is it a fatwah? Is it a copy of the Quran allegedly down the gurgler at Guantanamo? Is it some cartoon in Denmark? Time for Rage Boy to step in and for his visage to impress the rest of the world with the depth and strength of Islamist emotion,' writes Hitchens. Hitchens is critical of the media for exaggerating what are essentially small protests, saying all the photographers have to do is to take a few steps back to see how small the demonstrations are instead of magnified close-ups of the Rage Boy. Some bloggers have suggested the photographers have just gotten lazy and they have a deal going with the 'Rage Boy' to provide them with angry close-ups.