News

Here’s the reason why everybody is now calling ISIS, ‘Daesh’

Posted by
Joe Ellison
Published

And so it begins (again).

Within hours of MPs voting in favour of airstrikes in the Middle East, four RAF Tornados left Cyprus and took part in sustained bombing campaigns on oil fields in Syria.

Meanwhile, back home, social media erupted, people bashed keyboards and the public asked whether history really was repeating itself. Yet one other question soon started to emerge: why were ministers now referring to the terrorist group as ‘Daesh’?

Hadn’t David Cameron asked the BBC to stop using the term “Islamic State” and to instead call them “Isil” back in June? And why do we need another term – aren't three confusing enough already?

Well it turns out that on Wednesday, Downing Street did indeed announce that Cameron and his Government would now refer to the militant group as ‘Daesh’. In short because even when described as “so-called” Isil, or “self-styled” Islamic State, these abbreviations terms were judged to give far too much credence to the terror group.

Having been part of the French political lexicon since September 2014, it doesn't take a cynic to spot a link between the change of tack in Parliament and Cameron's recent show of unity with Francois Hollande following the Paris attacks. Even US secretary John Kerry used the term himself this past weekend.

But just what does Daesh actually mean?

Commonly abbreviated to Daiish, Da’esh or indeed Daesh, it stands for “Dawlat al-Islamiyah f'al-Iraq wa al-Sham”, translating to Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant”. What's more, it's widely used in the Arab world. The terror group made serious attempts to move away from it in the past year, rebranding themselves as Islamic State.

By removing these immediate Islamic connotations it’s hoped ‘Daesh’ will be another dent in its aim of global recognition. Particularly considering Daesh, when spoken, sounds similar to the Arabic words for “the sowers of dischord” (Dahes) or “one who crushes underfoot” (Daes), both very negative associations in the group's homeland.

Not that everyone is on the same page as Cameron. When a petition was signed by hundreds of MPs including Boris Johnson asking the BBC to use ‘Daesh’ in its reporting as opposed to Islamic State, the Beeb replied that it would not, stating it “must remain impartial and not use pejorative language.”

Topics

Share this article

Author

Joe Ellison

Joe is a writer and editor. Specialising in film, food, sport, current affairs, travel writing and adept at pilfering David Brent quotes, Joe describes himself as ‘basically a chilled out entertainer’. Follow Joe on Twitter: @Chevychased 

Related Posts