The Latest Viral ‘Challenge’ Is ISIS Flag-Burning

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It was only a matter of time: Inspired by the ceaseless barrage of Ice Bucket Challenge videos — which now come in toilet water (okay) and Gowanus (ew) flavors, as well as the original tap — a handful of Lebanese guys burned the ISIS flag in Beirut on Saturday. Well, not so much a flag as a paper with the flag printed on it.

The youths did the same to a printout of Jabhat al Nusra's flag, and the idea spread through social media, to YouTube videos and tweets:

Sounds like an idea the nearby states should embrace, right, since they're all so scared of ISIS? Not so much.

See, ISIS flies the flag of tawhid, or, as my French-Tunisian religion professor would say, the unicity of God. It's commonly used by extremist Muslim groups, with slight variations on the design, and includes the Muslim declaration of faith: There is no God but God, and Muhammed is his messenger

All this means that when they're burning the symbol of ISIS, those partaking in the challenge are also desecrating a central tenet of Islam.

And some Lebanese officials are less than pleased. Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi called the act "an insult to the religious slogans of the Abrahamic faiths, and could stir up sectarian conflicts," and called for prosecuting the young people involved.

Other members of the Lebanese parliament have stepped in for the boys, who may have been acting in response to the beheading of a Lebanese officer by ISIS. "The youths who burned the ISIS flag did not mean to insult the Islamic religion," said Nabil Naqoula of the Change and Reform Party. "This flag does not represent Islam in the slightest."

Best of luck, guys.