Rage Boy: He's Really Shy But Seriously Angry
“Rage Boy” makes the mainstream news today.
The Islamic Rage Boy collage from the collection at Snapped Shot.
He has become the face of Muslim fury: an angry young man whose bushy beard and fiery-eyed scowl take centre stage at nearly every pro-Islamic demonstration in Indian Kashmir.
Shakeel Bhat, 31, has been displaying his teeth and shaking his fist over anything from Salman Rushdie’s knighthood to Danish cartoons, becoming a photographers’ favourite and earning himself the nickname “Rage Boy” in online columns and blogs.
One American columnist has dismissed him as a “professional Muslim protester,” while other bloggers have also held him up for ridicule as a person who appears to be very easily enraged about anything.
“I can’t resist injustice. I protest for all the oppressed Muslims in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan,” he told AFP…
After escaping scores of police raids, Bhat finally spent three years behind bars — a lucky escape from the Indian army’s “catch and kill” tactics of the 1990s…
“If my photographs get published across the world, it is because my emotions are real and my looks are not deceptive. The photos show the anger inside,” said the full-time demonstrator, who when off the street looks distincly modest and a little shy…
Bhat has been detained more than 300 times since he first took to the streets of Srinagar in late 1997. He even travels to other parts of the picturesque Kashmir valley to vent his Islamist anger.
Although not a Shiite Muslim, he says his inspiration is Iran’s late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
“I sometimes leave my home and return days later after being in police lock-ups,” said Bhat, whose family run a handicrafts business.
“My family members are very supportive. They know I am not doing anything wrong. I am doing what every Muslims needs to do.”
Apart from drawing ridicule from bloggers, Bhat has even inspired one American neoconservative website to push “Rage Boy” merchandise — including T-shirts, beer mugs, mouse pads.
“I don’t believe this! I have no knowledge about all this. Why do they do it?” demanded Bhat, who says he has no idea how to use a computer and the Internet.
Bhat also shrugged off his rather unflattering “Rage Boy” nickname.
“I don’t need any titles. I am a simple Muslim. Yes, I get enraged if someone, somewhere makes derogatory remarks about our religion or Prophet,” he said.
“The Koran is my driving force. I will come out on streets as long as Muslims are victims of oppression, even if it leads to my death.”
The Koran may be his driving force, but how much do you want to bet he has his own Rage Boy scrapbook?