The single raised index finger has so far escaped analysis, likely due to the fact that those making the gesture have often had a severed head in their other hand, but refers to the first half of the shahada, the affirmation of Muslim faith that his recited before every prayer.
It is the passage that so defines the Muslim faith: “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is his Prophet.”
“The one” was actually a recognised gesture by Muslims long before IS and signified the tawhid, the belief in the oneness of God. It would traditionally be used during prayer or sermons.
Like the Nazi salute or the raised fist, the gesture has become an integral part of IS propaganda, particularly among the young. Videos from IS-held areas frequently show small children saluting with a single finger in unison while shouting IS propaganda.
“It so much reminds of the sieg heil [Nazi salute] when you see the little kids do it simultaneously,” said Khan.