Demonstrator Reimagined as 'Islamic Rage Boy' Brian Ledbetter, curator of the Web site Snapped Shot, noticed one protester showing up in pictures from multiple demonstrations in Kashmir. That person, Shakeel Bhat, then became the basis for a caricature and photo parodies.
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Demonstrator Reimagined as 'Islamic Rage Boy'

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Demonstrator Reimagined as 'Islamic Rage Boy'

Demonstrator Reimagined as 'Islamic Rage Boy'

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It's DAY TO DAY from NPR News. I'm Noah Adams.


And I'm Deborah Amos.

Every so often, trolling around the Internet, you come across something that catches your eye. So the next item is Rage Boy. Rage Boy is the cartoonish caricature of an angry protester that's showing up all over the Internet. It turns out that the protester is a real guy who does appear in just about every protest that takes place in Kashmir.

Brian Leadbetter runs a Web site called SnappedShot that draws attention to photojournalism. He's put a dozen pictures of Rage Boy on his Web site.

Mr. BRIAN LEADBETTER (SnappedShot): You know, I saw him again and again, so I pointed him out and, you know, just said, you know, it looks like this guy likes the camera and looks like the cameras like him.

AMOS: The image fascinated him - this bearded protester with his mouth wide open, baring his teeth, his fist punched in the air. So he clicked through some photo archives and he found some 30 pictures of the same guy.

Mr. LEADBETTER: He was protesting Pope Benedict's remarks, as I recall the first time. And then the second time around it came across connected with the Salmon Rushdie protest.

AMOS: A conservative humor site called The Nose On Your Face made a composite of a number of those shots and dubbed their new character Rage Boy. That image now appears on t-shirts, coffee mugs and mouse pads for computers. I asked Brian if he knew about that.

Mr. LEADBETTER: I have seen those, yes.

AMOS: Do you have any?

Mr. LEADBETTER: No, ma'am, I don't.

AMOS: Would you go that far?

Mr. LEADBETTER: Perhaps. Put it on my Christmas list.

AMOS: Would you?


AMOS: Of course, this got us to wondering about the real guy. So we called a reporter for Agence France Presse, Izhar Wani, who tracked down the protestor in Kashmir. He told us his real name is Shakeel Abdul Bhat. He's a full-time organizer who says his job is protesting the oppression of Muslims around the world.

Mr. IZHAR WANI (Agence France Presse): I liked him personally because I found him very straightforward. And I didn't found him hypocrite. He candidly admitted that at times he single-handedly starts a protest and he's the only protestor in that (unintelligible) and then the other people also join him and it becomes a big procession.

AMOS: Shakeel Bhat was a militant at one point, and even served time in jail for violent protests. But now he believes in peaceful protest only.

All the pictures on the Web of Shakeel are in that rage. What does he look like when he's not angry? Does he smile?

Mr. WANI: He looks exactly the opposite side of that.

AMOS: Exactly.

Mr. WANI: He smiles a lot. He smiles a lot. He always combs his beard. He wants to talk. He wants to talk a lot. Although he cannot talk in English, he talks in Kashmiri and in broken Urdu.

Mr. LEDBETTER: So if you saw him on the street, you wouldn't recognize him as Rage Boy.

Mr. WANI: No, that's right. I wouldn't. I wouldn't.

AMOS: Of course, one thing that has made him angry, being known as Rage Boy.

Mr. WANI: He said that if his pictures appear in the newspapers around the world, that's because his emotions are real. He is not (unintelligible) that's what he said. But as far as the title of Rage Boy, he doesn't like that at all. And he's very much uptight that his picture has been appearing on t-shirts, on mouse pads, on beer mugs. He can understand that pictures can appear in newspapers, in magazines, or on the Internet sites. But on these mugs and t-shirts he was really surprised.

AMOS: Does he know what the Internet is?

Mr. WANI: He doesn't know what Internet is. In fact, he said that he has seen computer once; otherwise he has never touched to computer. So he is not advanced, so I had to make him understand what Internet is and how his pictures have been appearing. And so he was really surprised.

AMOS: Is this one of the strangest stories that you have pursued in Srinagar?

Mr. WANI: I think this is one of the strangest story I have pursued. Because I have been working for the AFP for the last 14 or 15 years, since this insurgency broke out in Kashmir. This has been a peculiar story, yeah.

AMOS: That was Izhar Wani, a stringer for the Agence France Presse news agency based in Srinagar, Kashmir.

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