Angry Muslims? There’s just one of them

In the West, when people want to make a political point and speak truth to power, they know that nothing says we-mean-business quite like a giant paper mache head. But, if the television footage is to be believed, Muslims in the Muslim world do things a little bit differently: it’s rage, rage, rage and, if they are really angry, rage.

But, how many angry Muslims are there really in these protests?

Well, even Christopher Hitchens doesn’t believe there are too many of them:

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.

In fact, there are so few of them that one familiar face — like the legendary Green Helmet Guy — keeps showing up in the protest footage each time around.

According to the caption that was assigned to this photo, the man in this picture is a”Kashmiri protester” shouting “pro-Pakistan slogans” at a funeral procession held near Srinigar on June 19th, 2007.


Here he is again. This time demonstrating against Pope Benedict on September 15th, 2006:


Here he is in February 2007 protesting against Israel, September 2006 protesting the execution of a prisoner by Indian authorities, and here he is protesting against the Danish cartoons.

And finally here he is participating in a protest against the knighthood awarded to Salman Rushdie last week.