MU organization plans to burn ISIS flag at Columns

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COLUMBIA- The Young Americans for Liberty, University of Missouri chapter, burned a homemade Islamic State flag in an effort to unify students in opposition to ISIS.

Ian Paris is the organization's president and said he thinks it's important to bring awareness to the rising power of radical Islam in the Middle East.

"Burning Islamic [State] flag, we think, will hopefully spread awareness," Paris said.

Paris said the organization considered several other options, but decided burning the flag was the organization's best option.

"We figured that symbolically burning a flag has been used repeatedly against United States," Paris said. "We think it's about time that has been turned around and used to express our disdain."

Paris reached out to other university organizations to participate in the demonstration, but said he is not sure how many others will show up. 

"I've received a lot of support from other organizations and their members," Paris said. "There have been some that have expressed concern that it will be purporting Islamaphobia, for example. But I feel like our message, as I have maintained, is that we are not purporting Islamaphobia. We do not think ISIS is representative of Islam. We think it is necessary for people to understand the disconnect."

Zakaria El-Tayash is the president of the Muslim Student Organization at MU and said his members will not participate in the demonstration, along with several other student organizations on campus. 

"We are an organization that doesn't stand for violence in any way," El-Tayash said. "Their message from what I understand is good. Their intentions may be good. I just don't believe in the way that they are approaching the situation."

El-Tayash said burning the ISIS flag will just add fuel to the fire, but Paris does not agree.

"The main purpose of the Islamic State has been you instill fear in the people who would speak out and resist," Paris said. "I think that's the main concern some of them have. At the same time I think it's about time somebody stop being afraid, and said that we've had enough."

Paris obtained an open flame permit from the University of Missouri Department of Environmental Health and Safety, and his speech is protected under the First Amendment.