Media term ‘Islamic State’ is offensive
Last year a coalition of imams and organisations representing British Muslims said it wanted everyone from the Prime Minister down to stop referring to the Islamic State as Islamic State.
According to this report they demanded that politicians and the media start referring to the Muslim terror group as the “Un-Islamic State”
In a letter sent to PM David Cameron they said:
We do not believe the terror group responsible should be given the credence and standing they seek by styling themselves Islamic State. It is neither Islamic, nor is it a state
The letter’s authors also called on the Prime Minister to rethink his own language. Cameron, in common with other senior politicians, had repeatedly made reference to the Islamic State, including during a Commons debate.
Cameron and other politicos now now think that Muslims have a legitimate gripe, and have rounded on the BBC.
A cross-party group of MPs, backed by Cameron, wrote to the broadcaster, accusing it of legitimising the terrorist group by continuing to use the name in its reports.
A BBC spokesman said the corporation would consider the letter, signed by 120 MPs and sent to the BBC Director General, Tony Hall, last week, but that it had had little choice other than to call the group “by the name it uses itself”. It said in a statement:
No one listening to our reporting could be in any doubt what kind of organisation this is. We call the group by the name it uses itself, and regularly review our approach.
We also use additional descriptions to help make it clear we are referring to the group as they refer to themselves, such as ‘so-called Islamic State’.
Earlier on Monday, Cameron clashed with BBC Radio 4 presenter John Humphrys over the issue. He said:
I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State because it’s not an Islamic state. What it is, is an appalling, barbarous regime … It’s a perversion of the religion of Islam and many Muslims listening to this programme will recoil every time they hear the words Islamic State.
The letter, initiated by Rehman Chishti, the Conservative MP for Gillingham and Rainham, was signed by the Tory London mayor, Boris Johnson, and the Labour chair of the home affairs select committee, Keith Vaz. It urges the BBC and other broadcasters to adopt the name “Daesh” for the group.
The term is based on an Arabic acronym al-Dawla al-Islamiya fil Iraq wa’al Sham, which translates as Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (Syria), but is close to “Dahes” or “one who sows discord”.
Later on Monday, Cameron appeared to muddy the waters on his position during a Commons debate about the UK’s response to the Tunisia massacre, in which 30 Britons are feared to have died.
I personally think that using the term Isil or ‘so-called’ would be better than what [the BBC] currently do. I don’t think we’ll move them all the way to Daesh, so I think saying Isil is probably better than Islamic State because it is neither, in my view, Islamic or a state.
Isil is short for Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant – a historical geographical term for the land stretching from southern Turkey through Syria to Egypt. The official website for the British security agency MI5 uses the name Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant to describe the organisation.
Hat tip: Ivan Bailey.