Isis-chan slices melons instead of heads.
BARCELONA, Spain – Lovers of Japanese anime have launched their own online war against the Islamic State terror group, with a cartoon character named Isis.
The idea is to flood the internet with images of Isis-chan, the young female cartoon character: every time someone does an Internet search for ISIS, instead of the militants’ propaganda sites turning up they will be flooded with images of the cute little cartoon character with big green eyes.
She dresses in black – like the militants – but the knife she wields chops slices of melons instead of heads.
The Isis-chan trend was started by a Japanese anime lover who identifies himself on his Twitter account as ISIS Vipper.
“We design content that disrupts the ISIS propaganda in an enjoyable and easy way,” says the self-claimed creator of the character.
The idea of using animation in the fight against ISIS began in January, after two Japanese hostages were beheaded by the militants.
At the time, frustrated Japanese citizens who could do nothing about the executions started a string of cartoons depicting the ISIS executioner – later identified as British Muslim Jihadi John – wielding a banana instead of the machete with which he decapitated his hostages.
Since then a group of activist hackers in the United States and Europe, going by the name Anonymous, also has been flooding the Internet with anime girls.
The BBC reported recently that Anonymous was “ramping up efforts to tackle sympathizers of the Islamic State group on Twitter.”
The trendsetters follow certain rules: not offending Islam or victims of the terrorist group and not uploading gore or pornography.
"The idea is that ISIS-chan, with her cute anime looks and love of melons, neutralizes the horrific ISIS images circulating online,” wrote Kotaku, a news and opinion games website. “The ISIS Vipper 'team' says it 'disrupts' ISIS propaganda,” it added.
The cartoon campaign is adding to the social media war that the US and the UK have already launched against ISIS.
Social media has been a huge weapon in the hands of the terrorists. The group has used it not only to publicize videos of beheadings that have been widely circulated on the Internet, it has also used the world wide web to attract recruits and brides for fighters.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has called on Internet companies who track users' likes and dislikes online to use the information to catch would-be terrorists.
Almost 100,000 items of terrorist or extremist web posts have been removed from the Internet by British authorities in the last five years, according to official reports.
“This government takes seriously the threat from online terrorist and extremist propaganda, which can directly influence people who are vulnerable to radicalization,“ a British Home Office spokesman was recently quoted as saying by the Daily Mail newspaper.
The US government announced this year the creation of a department to coordinate Twitter accounts from across the government with the aim of popularizing anti-ISIS messages. The department has also sought anti-ISIS content from Muslim academics, scholars and community leaders who oppose the militants.
In addition, the European police agency Europol set up a Europe-wide unit this month to block ISIS propaganda online that is being used to radicalize and recruit extremists around the world.