People Are Burning The ISIS Flag In A New Online Campaign Against The Militant Group

The #BurnISISFlagChallenge may have started as a riff on the Ice Bucket Challenge, but across the Middle East it has now grown into a larger statement against the rapid rise of ISIS.

1. Over the weekend a group of young men in Lebanon decided to photograph themselves setting fire to the ISIS flag. They encouraged others to do the same using #BurnISISFlagChallenge.

It was, in the words of Lebanese student Maryam Shareed, “a long time coming.”

“ISIS has been all over social media, just dominating, for years. It was time that somebody from the Arab world pushed back,” she said, after printing out and burning the black ISIS flags with several of her friends this week. “It feels like it’s a good statement to make.”

The group recently declared it had established a state over vast swathes of Iraq and Syria and has said it hopes to reestablish the Islamic Caliphate, which historically includes Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Cyprus, and part of southern Turkey.

“They want Lebanon and we don’t want them here,” said Shareed.

3. Dozens of photos online show people across the Arab world burning the ISIS flag.

5. Some people argued that ISIS was un-Islamic, while others took issue with the group’s militant stance against any person who did not adopt their hardline interpretation of Sunni Islam.


— Michel Elຟtériadès (@elefteriades)

#BurnISISFlagChallenge if the Prophet Muhammad were alive today, he'd be the first person burning that flag down@Ashraf_Rifi #hall of shame

— abir bidiلا_للتمديد# (@AbirBidi)

Don't burn #ISIS flag bcz it contains God's name, burn #ISIS because it doesn't know #god @TheTweetOfGod #BurnISISFlagChallenge

— Bechemaly (@becharachemaly)

Prominent figures across the Middle East have increasingly voiced condemnations of ISIS.

Last month, one of the most prominent voices in Salafist Islam, Jordanian cleric Assem Barqawi, better known as Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, said the declaration by ISIS that it had reestablished the caliphate was “deviant” and against the principles of Islamic law, or Sharia.

Turkey’s top cleric, Mehmet Gormez, has said that ISIS is “an entity that lacks legal justification has no authority to declare war against a political gathering, any country, or community,” while some of Saudi Arabia’s most senior religious figures have declared ISIS a terrorist group.

“Extremist and militant ideas and terrorism which spread decay on Earth, destroying human civilization,” said Saudi Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh. “ISIS are not in any way part of Islam, but are enemy number one of Islam, and Muslims are their first victims.”

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Sheera Frenkel is a cybersecurity correspondent for BuzzFeed News based in San Francisco. She has reported from Israel, Egypt, Jordan and across the Middle East. Her secure PGP fingerprint is 4A53 A35C 06BE 5339 E9B6 D54E 73A6 0F6A E252 A50F
Contact Sheera Frenkel at

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