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    Images ridiculing the Islamic State (IS) have gone viral on social media, following a cartoon contest launched by Internet users in Japan

    Japanese Social Media Mocks IS Hostage Situation, Creates Viral Meme

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    Images ridiculing the Islamic State (IS) have gone viral on social media, following a cartoon contest launched by Internet users in Japan, in response to the expected Friday execution of two of the country’s nationals held hostage by the militant group.

    MOSCOW, January 23 (Sputnik) Viral images circulating on Twitter on Friday included photoshopped pictures of a masked IS fighter holding a banana instead of a knife, while in another image, a masked militant is the hostage in an orange jumpsuit, with the Japanese men pose as the terrorists.

    On Tuesday, the IS released a video demanding $200 million in ransom within 72 hours for the two Japanese hostages. Freelance journalist Kenji Goto was captured last year and Haruna Yukawa was reportedly kidnapped by the IS while training with the militants.

    The demanded ransom is equivalent to the amount recently pledged by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to countries fighting the IS as nonmilitary support, particularly as humanitarian aid for displaced persons in Syria and Iraq.

    Meanwhile, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, said the country’s government has made attempts to establish communication with the extremist militant group, and continues "to do what we have to do for them to be released as early as possible," news agency Kyodo reported.

    The IS, known for its brutality, began fighting the Syrian government in 2012, later expanding its operations to Iraq. The extremist group has declared a caliphate in the areas it controls in both countries.

    Related:

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    Japan Asks Iran for Help in Freeing Two Japanese Hostages Held by IS
    Japan Hasn’t Spoken to IS Over Hostage Ransom as Execution Deadline Looms
    Japan Sends Rapid Response Team to Jordan After IS Ransom Demand
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