The jihadist group now controlling huge amounts of territory in Iraq and Syria has accumulated an array of names from the public, many world powers, the media, and government officials. Most media platforms refer to the group as “ISIL” or “ISIS,” which originates from the former terms: “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria” and “Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham.” US and UN officials tend to refer to the group as “ISIL” which is an acronym for “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.” The group itself now goes by “IS” or “Islamic State.” However, according to BBC, the new term of “Daesh” has been gaining popularity, and has been “used as a way of challenging the legitimacy of the group due to the negative connotations of the word.”


BBC describes Daesh:

“Essentially an Arabic acronym formed from the initial letters of the group’s previous name in Arabic – ‘al-Dawla al-Islamiya fil Iraq wa al-Sham.’ Although it does not mean anything as a word in Arabic, it sounds unpleasant and the group’s supporters object to its use. Daesh also sounds similar to an Arabic verb that means to tread underfoot, trample down, or crush something.”



During the UK vote on whether to extend bombing to Syria, Prime Minister David Cameron stated to the House of Commons that references to the terrorist group, such as the titles listed previously, should be discontinued. He suggested that the term “Daesh” should be used as a name for the jihadist group. It has now become the official term in Russia and France since 2014.


Due to the name’s offensive wordplay directed at the terrorist group, they have previously threatened to “cut the tongue of anyone who publicly used the acronym ‘Daesh,’ instead of referring to the group by its full name.”


The creation of the term was influenced by the need to disconnect the terrorist organization from the religion of Islam. Therefore, IS supporters and members strongly dislike the term “Daesh” as it is, according to them, missing the crucial components of the Islamic religion.



Do you think the term “Daesh” should be more widely used by the public? What do you think of the current debates about the correct terms for the terrorist group? Leave a comment below or tweet me @julimiller97.