• A photo taken of cleaner Nazer al-Islam Abdul Karim went viral on social media (Twitter)Source: Twitter
A Saudi Arabian businessman turned the tide of online hate around by using Twitter to track down the cleaner.
Bianca Soldani

6 Dec 2016 - 1:42 PM  UPDATED 6 Dec 2016 - 5:31 PM

A Bangladeshi cleaner who was mocked on social media has been showered in gifts from well-wishing strangers.

A photo of 65-year-old Nazer al-Islam Abdul Karim looking wistfully at a jewellery shop window in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh, was posted on Instagram by a passerby this week.

It was met with a smattering of disparaging comments including one from a user who remarked that the migrant worker “looks as though he is seeing trash”.

The hate triggered a host of other users to rush to Abdul Karim’s defence and among them was Abdullah al Qahtani, who determined to find him.

He shared the image to Twitter and called on his followers for help. Three hours and six and a half thousand shares later, the reflection in the shopfront’s glass window had been used to locate Abdul Karim and people began offering to get in touch with gifts.

"Some wanted to donate gold sets, others cash, iPhones and Samsung Galaxy phones," al Qahtani told CNN.
"Even a rice company wanted to donate rice bags to Nazer al-Islam."

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Abdul Karim added that he is grateful for the outpouring of support, telling CNN, "I was just doing my job as a cleaner in the municipality and found myself in front of the gold shop. I am very happy about the gifts and very thankful."

At least one local businessman has made good on his intentions and took the cleaner shopping for a gold necklace on Monday.

While social media is often used a platform for trolls to spew hate, Abdul Karim's story illustrates how it can also give power to counter voices.

It also demonstrates how easily people can be tracked down through photos. In a similar scenario, Pakistani chai wala Arshad Khan had his photo taken and became a viral sensation after it was shared on social media.

He was later contacted by a local modelling agent and offered a contract.

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