In protests around the world, one image stands out: The Joker

Updated 1720 GMT (0120 HKT) November 3, 2019

(CNN)In cities around the world, among the sea of demonstrators who have taken to the streets, one image has stood out: the stark white face and creepy red grin of the Joker.

Artists in Lebanon and Iraq invoked the character on posters or edited him into images on social media.
Someone spray-painted "we are all clowns" onto a statue in Santiago, Chile.
And in Hong Kong, protesters dressed as the Joker as an act of protest in itself, defying a government ban on face masks and face coverings during public gatherings.
Their causes are different, their grievances varied. Proposed austerity measures. Threats to democratic freedoms. Deepening inequalities between ordinary citizens and the ruling elite.
So why are some protesters in Lebanon, Iraq, Chile, Bolivia, Hong Kong and Spain taking inspiration from a psychopathic killer from a controversial film?

Some see themselves in the Joker

"The Joker is us," Lebanese street artist Mohamed Kabbani told CNN. "... Beirut is the new Gotham City."
In the film "Joker," Gotham City is rife with crime, social services are getting slashed and residents are left feeling powerless and disillusioned, while wealthy elites respond with condescension or obliviousness. One bad day after another slowly drives Arthur Fleck to madness and by the film's end, he's transformed into the Joker -- and ultimately, an unintentional symbol of the downtrodden.
That power struggle between ordinary people and elites, Kabbani said, is what's resonating with protesters in Lebanon.
This street art poster created by the collective Ashekman was put up all over Beirut, Lebanon.
"This is the Lebanese society situation at the moment, full of underdogs, full of oppressed people that are extremely frustrated and that is looking for a window of hope," he said.
Through the Arabic rap and street art collective Ashekman, Kabbani and his twin brother Omar use art to speak out against social and political injustice. So when people in their home city of Beirut took to the streets after a proposed tax on WhatsApp calls, the brothers turned the Joker into a symbol of the demonstrations.
Using their signature style of calligraffiti, they drew the Joker holding a Molotov cocktail. The flames above his head read "72 hours" in Arabic, a reference to the deadline that then Prime Minister Saad Hariri gave political adversaries in Lebanon's coalition government to agree on reforms.
The brothers posted their art on social media and plastered the image around Beirut. But they weren't the only people who saw Gotham City as a stand-in for the