France is ditching the ‘Islamic State’ name — and replacing it with a label the group hates
From the start, exactly what to call the extremist Islamist group that has taken over much of Syria and Iraq has been problematic. At first, many called it the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). However, due to differences over how the name should be translated from the Arabic, some (including the U.S. government) referred to them as ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).
To make matters more complicated, the group later announced that it should simply be called the “Islamic State” – a reference to the idea that the group was breaking down state borders to form a new caliphate. A number of media groups, including The Post, the Associated Press and, eventually, the New York Times, adopted this name, while others stuck with ISIS and ISIL.
Now the French have added another complication. On Monday, the French government released a statement that included a reference to the group under a different name: “Daesh.”
France had hinted that it would begin using this term – how the group is referred to in much of the Arab world – before, but this week appears to be the first time that the country has used it in official communications.
“This is a terrorist group and not a state,” Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters last week, according to France 24. “I do not recommend using the term Islamic State because it blurs the lines between Islam, Muslims and Islamists. The Arabs call it ‘Daesh’ and I will be calling them the ‘Daesh cutthroats.’ ”
That logic is certainly understandable, and the French aren’t alone in bristling at the idea that an extremist group gets to take the moniker “Islamic State.”