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By The Neville Awards
Posted September 3, 2007
Are you a young Muslim, poor or middle class, jobless and relatively aimless?
Do you hate Jews, Christians, Hindus, Bhuddists, other Muslims, Americans, Israeli, Europeans and other assorted infidels?
Are you seething at the latest perceived Islamic insult du jour:
Well, Shakeel Bhat, a.k.a Islamic Rage Boy is your guy. He's ready to show up at your next Great Satan street protest anywhere, anytime.
Islamic Rage Boy has been photographed displaying his teeth and protesting Danish cartoons, Salman Rushdie's knighthood, magazine photos of a Muslim Mosque, a visit to India by President Bush, comments by the Pope, execution of a Muslim terrorist by India and Israeli military action.
- Did someone flush your Koran down a toilet?
- Did someone insult the Prophet by drawing a cartoon of him?
- Did someone characterize Muslims as terrorists?
- Did an unvieled woman talk back to you today?
- Did the sun rise in the east today?
- Did someone laugh today?
- Did someone just go to work today?
Bhat, a school dropout and former militant with a pro-Pakistan rebel group, has been arrested more than 300 times since he first took to the streets of Srinagar in late 1997. He spends days away from his widowed mother, four brothers and his sister, travelling to protests or attending court hearings. But his family, he says, is used to it.
When the media needs a picture of a stereotyped mad mullah Islamic Rage Boy is there. Bhat, 31 has become the face of Muslim fury:
an angry young man whose bushy beard and fiery-eyed scowl take center stage at nearly every pro-Islamic
demonstration in Indian Kashmir.
If he knew how the western media was ridiculing him, and the general damage he is doing to his cause, he would probably not appear anywhere. He would call a lawyer and sue for big bucks claiming unfair use of his likeness.
Of course, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has weighed in on the issue.
CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper says: "I find the term Islamic Rage Boy offensive, as would anyone who applied the term to their own faith. It's an Islamophobic product by Muslim-bashers on internet hate sites."
Hooper compares the cartoon to the anti-semitic imagery of 1930s Nazi Germany. "The cartoon is part of an overall growth of anti-Muslim rhetoric in this country. Someone is trying to link Islam with violence and anger and profiting from it."
***Note to Hooper: The "Someone" who is trying to "link Islam with violence and anger" is any number of Muslim demonstrators and terrorists. And the antisemitic imagery of today comes not from Germany but from Muslim cartoonists.
Islamic Rage Boy Speaks:
"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."
"Whatever I do, I do for Allah and the Prophet Mohammed."
"I can't resist injustice. I protest for all the oppressed Muslims in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan."
But the 30-year-old Kashmiri activist is puzzled, not angered, by his overseas fame. In his first interview with a British newspaper, he says he is carrying out Allah's wishes.
"Police have registered 40 cases against me for taking part in the protests and I have to shuttle from one court to another to defend myself. I've been in almost every police station," he laughed, clutching a plastic bag full of court papers.
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 runs 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.
From his home in Fateh Kadal, Malik Angan, he says: "I am not happy with people joking about me or making me into a cartoon, but I have more important things to think about. My protests are for those Muslims who cannot go out onto the streets to cry out against injustice. This is my duty and I believe Allah has decided this for me."
The conservative satirical news blog , says: "We're anti-Muslim-extremism, the loudest voice of the Muslim world right now, which would lead one to believe it is the dominant voice of the Muslim faith.
Buckley F Williams says, "Believe me, we want to be proven wrong. It isn't as though we were sitting around at our monthly Ku Klux Klan meetings and drawing religions out of a hat to see who would become the object of our scorn and ridicule next."
He and his co-blogger Potfry, both assumed names, have seen a significant rise in traffic to their site since the launch of Islamic Rage Boy, from 1,000 to 5,000 hits a day. They first spotted Mr Bhat last September.
Mr Williams says: "We didn't go looking for him because he was always in the news. We made him Islamic Rage Boy shortly after that and it became a sub-culture."
It was, he adds, less about Shakeel and more a composite representation. "We've seen so many pictures of Muslims protesting and there's a faction that's perennially angry."
The Nose On Your Face also has Rage Boy Gear for sale and has started the hilarious "Ask Islamic Rage Boy" series
When Neville first saw the T-shirts and bumper stickers featuring Islamic Rage Boy and the caption "My child beheaded your honor student," we got a chuckle out of it. Muslims, however, are unable to see the absurdity in it. Not only do they not find it funny, they cannot understand how it can be funny, simply because they do not understand the concept of absurdist, satiric or ironic humor.
Satire and irony are Western concepts that are completely lost on Muslims. Islam, obviously, has very strict rules about what is funny (very little) and what kind of jokes one can crack (very few). Seriousness is prized as a virtue. Hurtful jokes (such as mother-in-law jokes) are not allowed, nor, obviously, are religious or sexual jokes. Exaggerated or continuous joking "distracts" from the worship of Allah. Islamic scholars teach that "Everything has a beginning and hostility begins with joking. Joking shows foolishness and arrogance and causes one to lose respect for the joker."
Bill Maher and Jeneane Garolfolo would last about ten seconds on a Tehran stage, before the spectacle degenerated into a more satisfying public execution. We at Neville wonder how all of the Muslim hostility to the Jews began? Did some Imam tell a joke?
SnappedShot.com has posted the and the
We at The NevilleAwards sprinkled a few over this article...we couldn't resist.
Look Forward to Anger
It's impossible to satisfy "Rage Boy" and his ilk. It's stupid to try.
By Christopher Hitchens
Monday, June 25, 2007, at 1:46 PM ET
If you follow the link, you will be treated to some . 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.
Last week, there was another go-round of this now-formulaic story, when Salman Rushdie accepted a knighthood from her majesty the queen, and the whole cycle of hysteria started up again. Effigies and flags burned (is there some special factory in Karachi that churns out the flags of democratic countries for occasions like this?), wounded screams from religious nut bags, bounties raised to suborn murder, and solemn resolutions passed by notional bodies such as the Pakistani "parliament." A few months ago, it was the pope who was being threatened, and Christians in the Middle East and Muslim Asia who were actually being killed. Indeed, Rage Boy had a few yells and gibberings to offer on that occasion, too.
I have actually seen some of these demonstrations, most recently in Islamabad, and all I would do if I were a news editor is ask my camera team to take several steps back from the shot. We could then see a few dozen gesticulating men (very few women for some reason), their mustaches writhing as they scatter lighter fluid on a book or a flag or a hastily made effigy. Around them, a two-deep encirclement of camera crews. When the lights are turned off, the little gang disperses. And you may have noticed that the camera is always steady and in close-up on the flames, which it wouldn't be if there was a big, surging mob involved.
Of course, this is not to say that there isn't a lot of generalized self-pity and self-righteousness (as well as a lot of self-hatred) in the Muslim world. A minister in Pakistan's government-the son of revolting late dictator Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, as it happens-appeared to say that Rushdie's knighthood would justify suicide bombing. But our media regularly make the assumption that the book burners and fanatics really do represent the majority, and that assumption has by no means been tested. (If it is ever tested, and it turns out to be true, then can we hear a bit less about how one of the world's largest religions mustn't be confused with its lunatic fringe?)
The acceptance of an honor by a distinguished ex-Muslim writer, who exercised his freedom to abandon his faith and thus courts a death sentence for apostasy in any case, came shortly after the remaining minarets of the Askariya shrine in Samarra were brought down in shards. You will recall that the dome itself was devastated by an explosion more than a year ago-an outrage described in one leading newspaper as the work of "Sunni insurgents," the soft name for al-Qaida. But what does "Rage Boy" have to say about this appalling desecration of a Muslim holy place? What resolutions were introduced into the "parliament" of Pakistan, denouncing such shameful profanity? You already know the answer to those questions. The lives of Shiite Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and Christians-to say nothing of atheists or secularists-are considered by Sunni militants to be of little or no account. And yet they accuse those who criticize them of bigotry! And many people are so anxious to pre-empt this accusation that they ventriloquize the reactions of Sunni mobs as if they were the vox populi, all the while muttering that we must take care not to offend such supersensitive people.
This mental and moral capitulation has a bearing on the argument about Iraq, as well. We are incessantly told that the removal of the Saddam Hussein despotism has inflamed the world's Muslims against us and made Iraq hospitable to terrorism, for all the world as if Baathism had not been pumping out jihadist rhetoric for the past decade (as it still does from Damascus, allied to Tehran). But how are we to know what will incite such rage? A caricature published in Copenhagen appears to do it. A crass remark from Josef Ratzinger (leader of an anti-war church) seems to have the same effect. A rumor from Guantanamo will convulse Peshawar, the Muslim press preaches that the Jews brought down the Twin Towers, and a single citation in a British honors list will cause the Iranian state-run press to repeat its claim that the British government-along with the Israelis, of course-paid Salman Rushdie to write The Satanic Verses to begin with. Exactly how is such a mentality to be placated?
We may have to put up with the Rage Boys of the world, but we ought not to do their work for them, and we must not cry before we have been hurt. In front of me is a copy of this week's Economist, which states that Rushdie's 1989 death warrant was "punishment for the book's unflattering depiction of the Prophet Muhammad." There is no direct depiction of the prophet in this work of fiction, and the reverie about his many wives occurs in the dream of a madman. Nobody in Ayatollah Khomeini's circle could possibly have read the book for him before he issued a fatwah, which made it dangerous to possess. Yet on that occasion, the bookstore chains of America pulled The Satanic Verses from their shelves, just as Borders shamefully pulled Free Inquiry (a magazine for which I write) after it reproduced the Danish cartoons. Rage Boy keenly looks forward to anger, while we worriedly anticipate trouble, and fret about etiquette, and prepare the next retreat. If taken to its logical conclusion, this would mean living at the pleasure of Rage Boy, and that I am not prepared to do.