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Tracking Islamic State

Japanese Twitter Users Defy Hostage Crisis By Mocking Islamic State

Other images mock "Jihadi John" directly, such as this photoshopped picture that shows the British militant using his knife to make a kebab.
Other images mock "Jihadi John" directly, such as this photoshopped picture that shows the British militant using his knife to make a kebab.

Hours after the Islamic State (IS) group released a video threatening to behead two Japanese hostages, Japanese Twitter users were defying the militant's threats by creating and sharing images mocking the militants.

In a January 20 video, a British militant believed to be the infamous "Jihadi John" demands that Tokyo pay $200 million within 72 hours to spare the lives of the two hostages.

If the Japanese public does not pressure the government to pay the $200 million ransom, the militant warns, then “this knife will become your nightmare,” referring to the serrated weapon he brandishes in the video, and with which he is believed to have beheaded several Western hostages.

It is reasonable to assume that “Jihadi John” was not expecting that the “Japanese public” (or at least Japanese social-media users) would react to his threats in quite the way they have -- with a Photoshop contest.

Using a Twitter hashtag that translates roughly as “ISIS crappy photoshop grand prix,” the Japanese Twitter meme has gone viral, with hundreds of images being shared. On January 20, there were around 40,000 mentions of the hashtag on Twitter.

Some of the photoshopped images poke fun at what is now an all-too familiar image -- that of the black-clad "Jihadi John" flanked by hostages dressed in bright orange jumpsuits designed to evoke images of Guantanamo Bay inmates.

This image shows “Jihadi John” being attacked by a (presumably Japanese) ninja:

Other images mock "Jihadi John" directly, such as this photoshopped picture that shows the British militant using his knife to make a kebab:

Some of the images are slightly surreal, such as this one showing "Jihadi John’s" head photoshopped onto the front of the beloved British children’s character Thomas the Tank Engine:

In this image, several “Jihadi John” clones are falling through space:

Others used the hashtag to express that the the Japanese share common ground with Muslims:

Some of the images shared under the hashtag can be seen as a subversion of a trend popular among IS supporters on social media -- that of using Photoshop to create an imaginary and fantastical world in which IS militants and ideology are dominant.

Islamic State supporters have shared photoshopped images that show militants from the extremist group destroying key Western landmarks such as London's Big Ben and riding victorious on white steeds.

In one image mocking this genre, IS militants -- including “Jihadi John” -- are photoshopped invading a city in spacecraft. One militant laughs as he holds aloft an IS flag:

While it is the largest and most popular phenomenon to date of using humor as a counter to the Islamic State group’s propaganda, the Japanese “Photoshop grand prix” is not the first case of its type.

A group of anonymous Russian Internet users have been mocking the Islamic State group -- and Russian-speaking militants in Syria and Russia in general -- for months via a parody group known as TV Jihad, which claims to be a “joint project of Kavkaz Center (the media wing of the North Caucasus militant group the Caucasus Emirate) and TV Rain (a liberal Russian TV channel)."

“We fight against infidels, apostates, polytheists, Shabiha (pro-Assad militia), harbis (non-Muslims who do not live under the conditions of the dhimma, i.e. those who have not surrendered by treaty to Muslim rule), hypocrites, and rafidis (a term used by Sunni militants to refer to Shi’ite Muslims),” the Twitter account says, parodying terms used frequently by Russian-speaking Islamic State and Caucasus Emirate militants.

This tweet shows an image of IS military commander Umar al-Shishani in the snow and asks, “Motorola?” -- a reference to Arseny Pavlov, a pro-Russian separatist in the Donbas:

Not everyone has appreciated the efforts of TV Jihad to mock militants, however. Last year, the group was banned from the Russian social networking site VKontakte, where it had a large following.

-- Joanna Paraszczuk

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Bill Webb from: Phoenix Arizona USA
January 22, 2015 23:27
Japanese Twitter users surely are aware of the $200 million ransom demand by IS and they respond by making Photoshoped jokes about IS. How righteous! Let them slaughter two more innocent people. What difference would it make in the world's opinion of them?
In Response

by: Jenny from: Germany
January 23, 2015 15:38
I think that they are doing the right thing. What if all Japanese people were threatened up, gather money from entire islands, save out two hostage, as IS demanded? Do you know that one of the hostage might have been cheated and sold to IS? IS and dealers would learn the lesson and will continue to repeat the same thing. Anyone from rich countries would be exposed to more danger of terrorism. So I believe that this is right: people don't react, while the government does its best in negotiattion behinde the scene.
I hope that two hostages will return alive. I admire how they reacted.

by: Jenny from: Germany
January 23, 2015 15:26
I think they are fighting against the terrorism, in a sence. What happen if all Japanese people were threatened up by the video, gather money from entire islands and save two innocent hostages, as IS originally expected? Beautiful story, and from now on, all peole from rich country would be exposed to the danger of terrorism.... One of the Japanese hostage was cheated by a guide and sold to IS.
I believe that this is the right way: people don't react, and the government negotiate with all its best. I wish two hostage will return home alive.

by: anonymous_jp
January 24, 2015 15:52
ISIS Crappy Collage Grand Prix

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
January 25, 2015 15:14
Terrorism is Russia.
Russian bandits expropriate all wealth of nations.
Kazakhstan protested Russia conquering Ukraine -
Russia told its President they will kill him, message
delivered by murdering two Kazakhs, so nobody dare
to stop Russia repopulating and plundering Ukraine, or
Kazakhstan, or whole World.
Murdered in bestial Russian stile.
Japan is next be plundered and repopulated by Russia,
using Japanese peace policy placed in its Constitution.
They trash them since WW2 and blackmail to arm Russia for
World conquest. Russian Quislings countries, like N. Korea do the same.
Finally, Japan tried to negotiate Asia-Pacific collective security.
Russia is furious.
Two Japans nationals kidnapped and one already murdered,
in stile of bestial Russia.
West is totally corrupted. USA, manipulated by Russian
influx bombed hundreds of thousands, giving precedent
To Russia and making Moslems USA enemy.
British, Austrians, Germans cover-up for Russians,
being promised colonial Empires and part of the loot,
they already receive through stolen by Russia oil and gas.
Do British already get 51%, as they demanded from Russia
since 1954, from plundered by Russia World?
9/11 was blackmail by Russia, an Ultimatum not to develop
"Star Wars", it worked, USA stopped, but now Russia developing it for itself...

About This Blog

"Under The Black Flag" provides news, opinion, and analysis about the impact of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria, Iraq, and beyond. It focuses not only on the fight against terrorist groups in the Middle East, but also on the implications for the region and the world. The blog's primary author, James Miller, closely covered the first three years of the Arab Spring, with a focus on Syria, and is now the managing editor of The Interpreter, where he covers Russia's foreign and domestic policy and the Kremlin's wars in Syria and Ukraine. Follow him on Twitter: @Millermena

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