A new Web icon: Islamic Rage Boy

by Mathew on June 27, 2007 · 5 comments

If you’ve been reading news about India or Pakistan, or the Middle East, Salman Rushdie being knighted by the Queen, you may have seen photos featuring a young Islamic man who has come to be known (at least in some circles) as “Islamic Rage Boy.” In almost every photo, this bearded man is clearly agitated, yelling into the camera, waving his fist in the air, etc. And it’s not until you look at a site like SnappedShot that you realize he shows up in picture after picture, about different events, always with the same expression.

snipshot_e4bukwgiqif.jpgPhoto-journalists like nothing better than to have a photo of riots or protests, and whatever group Rage Boy belongs to seems happy to oblige. There’s a recent photo of him in a group of Islamic protesters during the recent worldwide “Day of Rage” against Salman Rushdie being honoured (since the author is still the subject of an Islamic fatwa, or death sentence, as a result of insults to the Prophet Mohammed contained in his book The Satanic Verses). Last fall, he was striking almost the exact same pose during protests over comments that Pope Benedict XVI made about the Prophet during a speech. There are also wire photos of what appears to be the same man protesting the publication of anti-Muslim cartoons in a Danish newspaper, and the use of the Prophet’s face on a playing card, and a visit by President Bush.

Rage Boy has become such a popular icon of Islamic fundamentalism that author Christopher Hitchens uses him as a metaphor in his latest column at Slate.com. In true Web icon style, he even has his own T-shirt. And blogger Mike Elgan of The Raw Feed compares Rage Boy to Everywhere Girl, a young woman named Jennifer Chandra, whose stock photo has become ubiquitous in online advertising, as chronicled by The Inquirer in Britain and several other outlets. Her blog is here.

(Note: Just so we’re clear, this is not meant as a judgment of any kind — positive or negative — about the validity or sincerity of any specific Islamic or Muslim protest, cause, or viewpoint. I just thought it was interesting. If anything, it’s a comment on the laziness of wire-service photographers and/or editors)

Update:

Mike at The Raw Feed notes that Islamic Rage Boy has now been unmasked as Shakeel Bhat, a 31-year-old former armed militant.

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