Opponents of Islamic State create own version of the Ice Bucket Challenge

Image from a video uploaded to YouTube showing an IS flag being burnt Credit: YouTube

Opponents of the Islamic State (IS) militant group have started a social media campaign imitating the popular Ice Bucket Challenge.

Instead of pouring a bucket of icy water on their heads, participants are invited to burn a copy of the IS flag and post a photo or video to the internet.

As with the Ice Bucket Challenge, which has raised millions of pounds for charity, people nominate others to take the challenge, helping it to grow.

The campaign has its origins in Lebanon where flags were reportedly burned in response to the apparent beheading of a Lebanese solder by IS militants.

The soldier was one of 19 soldiers missing since IS fighters stormed a Lebanese border town last month. Last week, militants beheaded another soldier taken captive in the same incursion.

A week ago, a video was uploaded to a Lebanese YouTube account showing someone setting fire to the IS flag. The video was captioned: "I nominate the whole world to #BurnISISFlagChallenge. You have 24 hours. GO!!"

The hashtag '#BurnISISFlagChallenge' has since gone viral with many Twitter users sharing photos and videos of burning flags.

But the popularity of the campaign has been accompanied by a debate on whether it is offensive to Muslims in general.

A note under the original video reads: "ISIS [an alternative name for IS] are not ISLAM nor do they represent ISLAM and muslims." Many people taking part in the campaign have repeated variations on these words.

Relatives and soldiers carry the coffin of a Lebanese soldier beheaded by IS Credit: REUTERS/Stringer

But a Lebanese news website quotes the country's justice minister, Ashraf Rifi, as calling for the "sternest punishment" for those who burn the flag.

He is quoted as saying that the IS flag bears the Islamic Shahada - “There is no god but God and Muhammad is his Prophet” - and that burning it "has nothing to do with ISIS and its terrorist approach”.

Others have shared this sentiment on social media: