Is it ISIS or ISIL? The French government has found its solution.
The term ISIL, meaning the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, references the eastern Mediterranean region stretching from Turkey to Egypt, swallowing up Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan. After establishing their “caliphate,” the terror group dropped the Levant from its name and simply went with Islamic State.
The Obama administration, from the Pentagon to the State Department to the White House, consistently uses ISIL. A majority of members in Congress, on both sides of the aisle, also use ISIL in their press releases. Hearing names juggle between ISIS and ISIL. The British government uses ISIL as well.
Houses Democrats eventually decided in caucus to use ISIL, reportedly in part out of deference to women named Isis.
Governments are unified about not legitimizing their border-busting caliphate by calling them the Islamic State, or IS. The use of Islamic State is usually prefaced by “so-called” or “self-professed.”
ISIS, which generally has been favored by a majority of news outlets including The New York Times and ABC News, stands for the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham — parts of Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, which formed Greater Syria, after a caliphate was formed in the 7th century. Al-Sham can also be interpreted to mean the same territory as the Levant or to simply refer to Damascus.
After President Obama appeared on Meet the Press earlier this month, host Chuck Todd theorized why the administration uses ISIL. “Obviously we refer to it at NBC News as ISIS. The Obama administration, president, says the word ISIL,” Todd said. “The last S stands for Syria, the last L they don’t want to have stand for Syria.”
Maureen Dowd called it “a bit odd that the administration is using ‘the Levant,’ given that it conjures up a colonial association from the early 20th century, when Britain and France drew their maps, carving up Mesopotamia guided by economic gain rather than tribal allegiances. Unless it’s a nostalgic nod to a time when puppets were more malleable and grateful to their imperial overlords.”
While the successor to al-Qaeda in Iraq sees Islamic State, ISIS, or ISIL as legitimizing their caliphate aims, they take Daesh as an insult.
The formal name of the group is al-Dawla al-Islamiya al-Iraq al-Sham. Take the “D,” an “A,” and the “Sh,” and that’s where the loose acronym Daesh comes from.
It was first pegged by Arabic media and quickly caught on among Free Syrian Army and Kurdish fighters, civilians in the region opposed to IS, Twitter Kurds, and governments in the region that want to dis’ the Islamic State. It’s also used in Israel.
The great part is the term’s multiple meanings among IS opponents, as the word sounds like the Arabic term for trampling or crushing underfoot: daes. It can also sound like Dahes, explained France24, which can either mean “one who sows discord” or refer to the Dahes wal Ghabra war in the pre-Islamic period of Arabia.
France thinks that’s just perfect.
Stressing that “this is a terrorist group and not a state,” Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters last week that he will be using the Arabic term — and he urged news organizations to do the same.
“The Arabs call it ‘Daesh’ and I will be calling them the ‘Daesh cutthroats,'” Fabius said.
The latest press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs leaves out the “cutthroats,” but holds fast to the Daesh vow — while attempting to train people on the term.
“M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, had a meeting today with his British counterpart, Mr Philip Hammond,” said a Tuesday statement. “During this first bilateral meeting, the ministers took stock of the common battle against Daesh [ISIL], support for a solution to the crisis in Ukraine, the priorities for the European Union following the appointment of the new Commission, and the fight against the spread of the Ebola epidemic.”
“There can be little political ambiguity behind the French government’s decision to deploy Daesh as a linguistic weapon,” noted France24.
And IS/ISIS/ISIL goons really hate Daesh:
Several residents in Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city which fell to the extremist group in June, told The Associated Press that the militants threatened to cut the tongue of anyone who publicly used the acronym Daesh, instead of referring to the group by its full name, saying it shows defiance and disrespect. The residents spoke anonymously out of fear for their safety.
Last month, the Associated Press ruled that it would not use ISIL in stories anymore except in direct quotes, telling Poynter: “About a month ago ISIL changed its name, so our approach is to refer to them on first reference simply as ‘Islamic militants,’ ‘jihadi fighters,’ ‘the leading Islamic militant group fighting in Iraq (Syria), etc.’ On second reference, something like ‘the group, which calls itself the Islamic State,’ with ‘group’ helping to make clear that it is not an internationally recognized state.”
What do you think they should be called?
— Asaf Ronel (@AsafRonel) September 17, 2014
— Ruwayda Mustafah (@RuwaydaMustafah) September 17, 2014
— Tony Karon (@TonyKaron) September 17, 2014
— Peter Spooner (@pjspooner) September 17, 2014