MUCK ISIS burns ISIS flag to protest US foreign policy

Some students expressed concerns on safety of antagonizing the Islamic State.

The first event held by the MU Coalition for those Killed by ISIS culminated in the burning of the Islamic State flag in front of the Columns.

The demonstration began at 4 p.m. and lasted about an hour. The crowd fluctuated between around one hundred and two hundred onlookers and participants. Several protesters brought American flags. During the first hour, MUCK ISIS organizers passed out hotdogs and water bottles and tried to engage students in discussion.

“I think the turnout was great,” Young Americans for Liberty member Caleb Mundwiller said. “I think it went very well. I think we succeeded in sending the message we wanted to send, and it really resonated with everybody.”

That message, according to organizers, was about U.S. foreign policy as well the Islamic State’s actions.

“I am about to tell you what some of you will not want to hear,” YAL President Ian Paris said immediately before the burning of the flag. “I am about to tell you that it was our government, through a failure in leadership, that has helped pave the way for such a disastrous condition such is found in the Middle East today.”

Protesters charged the U.S. government with worsening the situation in Iraq and Syria. One woman held a sign that said, “ISIS: Brought to you by your gov’t.”

Paris emphasized that the protest was “not Islamophobic.”

“I am disgusted, appalled and downright infuriated that weapons you and I have paid for are being used to methodically execute not just Jews, not just Christians, but also hundreds of thousands of Muslims across the Middle East,” he said.

Senior Lucy Mulvihill, a member of YAL, said the group had difficulties acquiring the flag because no businesses they reached out to would print it. She made the flag by hand in a process that took her two to three hours.

“We had to order just a plain black flag off the Internet, just a blank slate basically, and I had to cut (the letters) out of a white cotton fabric,” she said. “I started to sew it, but the edges started to fray, so I just hot-glued it on.”

She said the group wanted to make sure they didn’t inadvertently give money to the Islamic State by purchasing the flag online.

While Paris said most of the response he received was positive, he said several students approached him during the event with concerns about the safety of an Islamic State flag burning.

“There’s always been a safety concern,” he said. “ISIS can strike anywhere at any time. That fact shouldn’t determine our actions. We shouldn’t bend to the whims of terrorism.”

Paris said MU administrators also reached out to organizers. During the event, MUPD surrounded Francis Quadrangle.

Mundwiller called them “cooperative,” but he said they did raise some concerns.

“Fear of ISIS was one (concern),” Paris said. “There were some safety concerns that were raised about the flames, obviously. We opted to burn it in the fire pit rather than light it out due to those safety concerns and the wind speeds.”

The crowd was boisterous and outspoken during Paris’s speech and the flag burning. At several points, observers cheered or broke out into chants of “USA! USA!”

“Hopefully it will start a conversation,” Mulvihill said. “Especially when passing out fliers, we learned that a lot of people were like: ‘Who is ISIS? What does ISIS do?’ They didn’t even know the insanely negative impact they’ve had on the world.“

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