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Was Borat (top) copied from
Mahir Cagri's website?
In the November 2006 edition of WIRED Magazine ,
Mahir Cagri - who made an online international splash with his "I Kiss
You" website in the 1990's - was interviewed for an article entitled "Mahir to Borat: I Sue You!".
In that interview, Mahir stated he plans on
suing Sacha Baron Cohen for essentially stealing his persona to create the
fictional Kazakhstan reporter "Borat"...
"All people know Sacha Baron Cohen imitate only me," Cagri recently fumed via
email. "He is stealing my character and giving bad message to USA people."
Cagri, who's been struggling to start a career in show business ever since
his boom-era glory days, says he intends to sue Baron Cohen. "He never contacted me or got my permission," he writes. "If possible you can help
me too for stop this or find good lawyer?"
And this startling resemblance has also been pointed
out at many other places online too, including BoingBoing.net 
and a Turkish news site .
So the question is: Which came first.... Borat or
Mahir Cagri's website?
The History of Mahir "I Kiss
Mahir Cagri is a resident of Turkey who created an amateur site in the late
1990's on the now defunct XOOM website 
which offered free hosting services. On it, Mahir exclaimed in broken
English his love for travel, women, playing the accordion, and sun bathing in
his speedo swim suit.
The website's charm and unintentional(?) humor
caused it to quickly spread around the world;
eventually being featured on the XOOM homepage itself. His website's popularity
continued and even increased when it was mirrored on a fellow Turk's site, 
who explains on his homepage:
One day I received a link to a funny site. The site was lost in
cyberspace.. I liked it, and created a mirror on my web site to share with my close friends.. Then I sent the e-mail with the link to 10 people.
Guess what happened: I got more than 500000 unique hits in two weeks. My ISP threatened to shut down my site. Mahir Mafia warned me and gave me an
ultimatum to delete all the content. I received thousands of fan mails. Boston Globe interviewed me..etc.. This is Internet... you never know what
will happen next...
Now the question is... when did this all happen?
One of the earliest mentions of this Mahir internet
phenomenon is a November 4, 1999 article on Salon.com .
Early last week, a URL started making the rounds of mailing lists
everywhere. It was the home page of a Turkish man identified only as "Mahir".
Other Mahir related activity during that month
can be seen with the creation of the Mahir Web-Ring (Nov.12/99) 
and the Yahoo Mahir Fan Club (Nov.4/99). 
It's difficult to figure out exactly when Mahir created his page at the defunct
XOOM host, and his new personal website "I Kiss You" was created about a year later on November 23,
There's also no easy way to discover when Mahir's original page was mirrored on
a subdomain by the other Turk, but he'd purchased the domain itself (istanbul.tc)
in June of 1998. 
So... since the Salon.com article stated on November 4, 1999 that Mihar's internet
boom happened "early last week", the earliest date we can definitely
point to is late October of 1999. I doubt the mirror page hosted at
istabul.tc was created solely to reprint Mahir's original
site, but if it was then I would guess Mahir's original site might have been
making the rounds (gone viral via email) sometime in early 1998.
Therefore, the Mahir "character"
was certainly well known in October 1999 and might have existed - and
been noticed by the registrant of istanbul.tc - sometime the previous year...
The History of Borat
The Borat Soundtrack Now Available!
It's been reported that Sacha Baron Cohen claims
Borat was based on a Russian Doctor he'd met and found him
hysterically funny. Some sources have stated the doctor's name is Mak
The earliest date attributed to a Borat-like
character played by Cohen is 1994, with a Scotsman News article 
BORAT from Kazakhstan first took shape as Kristo from Albania, it is said.
In 1994, Channel 4 launched a hunt for new presenters as a replacement for
its series The Word. Sacha Baron Cohen submitted a tape of himself as Kristo.
That information is also mentioned and expanded
upon in a Softpedia.com  post:
In 1994, the comedian sent to Channel 4 a tape picturing him in the
character as Borat, a fictional television reporter from Kazakhstan, which caught the attention of one of the producers. Cohen came to prominence
when his character Ali G started appearing on The Eleven O'Clock Show on Channel 4.
In 2000, in Da Ali G Show, Kristo re-emerged as Borat, the naive, racist, reporter from Kazakhstan.
The Wikipedia page for Borat Sagdiyev
indicates there may have been a Borat character even before Kristo appeared:
Borat evolved from previous characters that Sacha Baron Cohen had
developed: An unnamed Moldovan TV reporter (for LWT/Granada TV and the BBC's Comedy Nation) and an Albanian TV reporter called Kristo (for the
Paramount Comedy Channel).
We managed to find a 'retrospective' video on YouTube showing Cohen as the very Borat-like character Kristo, clearly dated as having been broadcast in 1998.
So there you have it...
The earliest date we can determine for Mahir
Cagri's popular website: 1998.
The earliest known mention of Sacha Cohen's Borat/Kristo character: 1994.
Do you have any comments about this article or
information that supports or refutes the results?
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