Lebanese ice bucket challenge morphs into burning Islamic state flags

Lebanese activists burn an adapted imitation of an Islamists flag reading in Arabic "We are coming to burn you" written in the center during a protest in front of the Justice Ministry in Beirut on Monday. (Anwar Amro/AFP/Getty Images)

Last weekend, several Lebanese activists started a trend which has since gained prominence under the hashtag #BurnISISFlagChallenge or #BurnISIS. The protesters burned an Islamic State flag in retaliation to the presumed beheading of a Lebanese officer, an idea which quickly motivated others to post similar pictures or videos.

The self-perpetuating campaign follows the model of the well-known #IceBucketChallenge, and has found supporters on Twitter, Facebook and other social networks. Here is one example:

Although having been praised by some Internet users, the campaign has been strongly criticized by the Lebanese justice minister who even called for “sternest punishments” for those who burned flags of the IS militant group last Saturday. In a statement, Ashraf Rifi declared it was necessary to “bring to justice those individuals who burned the ISIS flag in Sassine Square.”

It is unclear whether the threat of prosecution also extends to others who have since jumped on the trend. The flag burned in Sassine Square wasreportedly emblazoned with the tenet “there is no god but God and Mohamed is his prophet.” According to the Lebanese justice minister, burning the flag constitutes an insult to Islamic religious symbols.

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