Muslims Around the World Are Taking on the Islamic State With Their Own Viral Challenge


The news: Forget the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: This viral campaign is way better.

Muslims around the world aren't intimidated by the brutal tactics of Islamic State. And they've started their own challenge to burn an IS flag to prove it.

Mother Jones reports that the challenge began when three young Lebanese men in Beirut protested IS' horrifying human rights record by posting a video of themselves burning the group's flag. The trend quickly took off as Muslims and others, mostly throughout Lebanon, posted clips of burning black flags, calling for an end to Islamic State.

Here's some more examples:

According to Mother Jones, Lebanese officials are not happy about the flag-burning trend. Minister of Justice Ashraf Rifi called for the "sternest punishment" for anyone caught destroying the flag, because it contains Islamic imagery. The government must "bring to justice those individuals who burned the ISIS flag in Sassine Square," Rifi said in a statement. Twitter users claim that accounts associated with IS posted photos of burning crosses in response.

IS has most recently attracted the attention of the international community for proclaiming itself a caliphate, successfully marching on government and Kurdish positions in northern Iraq, and executing captured American journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley on camera during taped video taunts to the U.S. The White House seems prepared to respond to this threat by escalating an ongoing air campaign against the group, while the majority Congress seems ready to give the president the official authority to do so.

Though just a few videos and photos have made their way online, the Lebanese activists involved are putting themselves in harm's way by doing so — whether from the threat of prosecution from their own government or at the barrel of an IS firearm. But the ugly conflict between IS and its neighbors may just be beginning, and flag-burning is pretty tame compared to what is already happening in Syria and Iraq.