[JURIST] Lebanon’s Minister of Justice [official website] on Saturday called for the “sternest punishments” to the individuals in Beirut who burned the flags of the militant groups the Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS) and the Al-Nusra Front. It is reported [Asharq Al-Awsat report] that Minister Ashraf Rifi issued a highly criticized statement which has urged the Lebanon state prosecutor to bring justice to the individuals who participated in the flag burning activities at Sassine Square in Beriut. Minister Rifi claims that the flag burner’s actions were condemning and insulting to the faith of Islam because inscribed on the ISIS flag is the Muslim Shahada which is a declaration of faith. Rifi stated in regards to the inscriptions on the ISIS flag, “[t]here is no god but God and Muhammad is his Prophet, which has nothing to do with ISIS and its terrorist approach.” Under Lebanese law, it is illegal to defame religious symbols which in turn may incite sectarian conflict. Pictures of the individuals burning the militant groups flags on Saturday were discovered on Facebook and revealed that the actions were a response to the recent beheading of member of the Lebanese armed forces by ISIS.
Iraq has experienced mounting unrest since IS (also known as ISIS) began its insurgency in 2013. Earlier this week the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Iraq [official website] Nickolay Mladenov called for immediate action [JURIST report] to stop the inhumane activity caused by IS in Amerli. The UN [JURIST report] and Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] have consistently expressed [JURIST report] alarm over the violence occurring in the country including numerous executions of Iraqi civilians, religious leaders and government affiliates by IS members and the Iraqi government’s execution of Iraqi nationals for terrorism related offenses [JURIST reports]. The IS-instigated atrocities in Iraq began in June of 2013, two years after US troops pulled out [JURIST backgrounder] of the country. This violence was soon followed by the rebel group detonating [JURIST report] a series of car bombs near Bagdad in order to facilitate a prison raid, killing 60 people.