By Jonel Juste
MIAMI OCT 8.- It’s a matter of sound and dignity. Less than two months ago, news broke that a new terror organization had been created in the Middle East. A powerful group that would make Al-Qaeda look ridiculous. We’d expect that this new group would have a frightening name, but the international media have called it ISIS, which stands for the “Islamic State in Iran and Syria”.
ISIS sounds like a nice thing though, a flower, a woman, an ancient Egyptian goddess. Not sure that the terrorists themselves would call themselves that way because it sounds so feminine, so cute. Really, ISIS is not a name for terrorist organization. It doesn’t scare people. Al-Qaeda is scary; ISIS is lovely, too lovely for such a dreadful group. There’s still time to rebrand it.
In fact, there is a debate going on over the right way to call the Islamic terrorist group which goal is to establish a vast caliphate (Islamic State) first in Iraq and Syria than in other Muslim countries in the Middle East. Presently, most media use the term ISIS, but the group is also called IS (Islamic State) and ISIL, which stands for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Though ISIS is the most popular name in the US media now, ISIL is the most accurate (as we’ll see later). ISIL is not terrible nor very frightening but it’s way less charming than ISIS. Besides, ISIL is the term that officials use, including President Obama. However, the media don’t want to hear about it. They keep using ISIS and sometimes quote incorrectly the president, making him say ISIS while he has said ISIL.
In the meantime, some people and even companies are suffering from that situation. Companies named ISIS have rebranded. For example, report Reuters, ISIS Mag, a London-based hair and beauty magazine for women of African descent, had to change its name and its logo.
Individuals are also suffering like Isis Martinez, living in Florida, whose name is ISIS. Contrary to the companies, Martinez can’t rebrand. Today people named ISIS are afraid to pronounce this “awful” name they once cherished. Some little girls are being bullied.
As a terrorist group, ISIS is practically new. It’s not too late to rebrand it. One of the way to do so is using the name that the terrorists use to call themselves or the exact translation of it. In 2001 for example, we hadn’t found a name for Al-Qaida; we’ve just used the name they went by. We should do the same for the Islamic State. In this, the French government has got it right. They named the terrorist group “Daesh”, which simply stands for “Al-Dawla Al-Islamiyya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham.” That’s the exact same phrase as “Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham [aka the Levant]”. Therefore Daesh is the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The media could use the term Daesh or ISIL instead; that would be more honest, and it would be a relief to many lovely women and girls named after the ancient Egyptian goddess.