What’s in a name? When it comes to how to refer to the extremist group that has terrorized Syria and northern Iraq and violently imposed a caliphate, a lot.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a bit of a misnomer, says France, as it lends the imprimatur of Islam to a group that the vast majority of Muslims finds despicable. “This is a terrorist group and not a state. I do not recommend using the term Islamic State because it blurs the lines between Islam, Muslims, and Islamists,” France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in a statement. “The Arabs call it ‘Daesh’ and I will be calling them the ‘Daesh cutthroats.'”
The name Daesh, according to France24, is a “loose acronym” for “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (al-Dawla al-Islamiya al-Iraq al-Sham). The name is commonly used by enemies of ISIS, and it also has many negative undertones, as Daesh sounds similar to the Arabic words Daes (“one who crushes something underfoot”) and Dahes (“one who sows discord”).