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Islamic Rage Boy is the internet nickname given to Shakeel Ahmad Bhat, an Islamic political activist from Kashmir region in India, whose photo spread all over teh interwebs and news media circa 2007. The meme consists of photoshopped images depicting Islamic Rage Boy’s furious face superimposed over other figures, for teh lulz. It’s widely considered a notable example of single-character image macro memes on the web.
The first known photo of Mr. Bhat appeared on Jihad Watch on September 16, 2006. Epitomizing the Western perception of Islamic extremism, the boy’s photo was popularly syndicated in newspaper/magazine articles about Muslim protests, from the protest against Danish cartoons and the Pope to Israeli military actions in Gaza and President Bush’s visit to India.
Meanwhile, his photos also became the subject of ridicule among bloggers and columnists who felt skeptical about Bhat’s poster-boy status in the Western media. In the months following, photoshopped images and video clips of Islamic Rage Boy began circulating in the political blogosphere, most notably the U.S. conservative blog The Nose on Your Face.
True Identity of Islamic Rage Boy
With the growing popularity of Islamic Rage Boy on the web, the true nature of his identity was bound to be revealed. In November 2007, a DailyMail journalist visited Kashmir and conducted an interview with the famous protester.
Despite being nicknamed a “boy,” Shakeel Ahmad Bhat is a 31 year-old bachelor living with his family in Kashmir, India. As a child, he grew up amidst the bloody turmoil of territorial conflict between India and Pakistan in the late 1980s. At age of thirteen, Bhat joined a local anti-Indian insurgency after witnessing his sister’s death during a raid conducted by the Indian police forces. Eventually, he was captured by the Indian military and spent three years in prison. Though Bhat claims to have put his militant years behind him, he remains dedicated to political activism; he has demonstrated against the Pope’s comments about Islam, against the sexual exploitation of Kashmiri girls, against police violence and against the controversial Danish cartoons depicting Muhammed. When he was shown the “photoshopped images”: of Islamic Rage Boy, he responded:
“I surely get hurt when I see these pictures. This is terrorism for me. The people who do this are showing their own culture, so why do they tell us that we are uncivilised?”
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