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CHISTI Rehman

Rehman Chishti is Member of Parliament for Gillingham and Rainham.

The perils of terror are no longer confined to far flung places across the globe; they are a threat to us here in the UK and the western world.

We have witnessed attacks in the streets of Europe and the large scale destruction in the Middle East – a region of vital importance to our own interests and our security.

Whilst no agreement stands between states on what constitutes terrorism, there is a consensus that the group which calls itself the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is a terror organisation.

Their barbaric practices of brutal beheadings, forced marriages and mass executions show they are nothing more than a terrorist organisation that engages in terrorist acts.

Yet the problems we face with ISIL do not end by defining them as terrorists, for what you call an enemy is an important part of defeating them.

You may ask – what’ important about a name?  But names can ennoble and bestow legitimacy where none should be given.

I believe that for too long, since their rapid gains across northern and western Iraq and eastern Syria, we have allowed the interchangeable titles of Islamic State, ISIL and ISIS to remain in our common lexicon.

Daily in our newspapers and on our television screens we see and read about the grim reality of life for the six million people forced to live under the terror of the so called “Islamic state”.

Their atrocities in Iraq and Syria clearly demonstrate they are not Islamic nor are they a state.

For a state to exist it must have legal and international recognition as well as a defined sovereign territory.  This organisation does not have a permanent population, a defined territory or the institutions of state.  It does not recognise international law, norms or conventions or even the treaties of the UN.  Nor has any other state in the world recognised them as a state.

They are distorting a peaceful religion for their own violent and extremist ends and calling this evil organisation ISIL only gives it legitimacy by linking it to Islam.

This not only misleads people into thinking this issue is religious, when in fact it is criminal and politically motivated, but also attracts those, who through ignorance and misunderstanding, may seek to join ISIL because of its name and association.

As Professor James Bruning from Ohio University says, “the impact of names comes from how people expect to see you”, and to stop driving recruits into their grim clutches we must deprive it of its association with Islam.

Travelling the country, visiting different communities and mosques, I have found that the question of their name often comes up.  People want the media and our leaders to call this evil organisation what it really is, rather than allowing it to be linked with religion.

It is a point which was welcomed by the Foreign Secretary when I raised it with him in Parliament.  He suggested that the BBC and other media outlets should give them a different name.

It is time that we adopt a clear, unambiguous title that fully reflects the nature of these terrorists.

So what could be an alternative name for such a brutal group?

Last year France took up the name widely adopted in the Middle East – ‘Daesh’ – which is an Arabic acronym for the group’s name, al-Dawla Al-Islamiyia fil Iraq wa’al Sham.

It also holds negative connotations sounding similar to the word ‘Daes’ meaning “one crushes something underfoot” and ‘Dahes’, referring to “one who sows discord.”

Whilst others have started referring to this evil gang as “Daish”, this has been rejected by Turkey.  They refer to them as “Deash” because, as the Ambassador of Turkey has explained to me, the “I” links it to Islam.

Whilst renaming them Daesh would be a step forward, as it has international support, others have made different suggestions.  A group of prominent British Muslim groups wrote to the Prime Minister David Cameron in September proposing the use of “Un-Islamic State” to help tackle radicalisation in the UK.

I believe that we should also consider an idea by Prince Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of the King Faisal Centre for Research and Islamic Studies and the former Ambassador to the United States and the United Kingdom.

At a lecture I hosted in Parliament, Prince Turki argued that we should rename them ‘Faesh’ meaning obscene.  As he has said “when we refer to someone using this word it means they commit obscenities, whether through words or deeds”.

Certainly their actions suggest this would be a more appropriate title for an organisation that has been responsible for such acts as enslaving women and attacking innocent people.

Recent events show that there is no clear end in sight to the fight with this terrorist group.  But the battle for ideas must be fought as well as the ground war.

We cannot let them gain the legitimacy they seek by calling them the Islamic State. It is time to adopt a different name, and faesh seems a sensible suggestion to me.

14 comments for: Rehman Chishti MP: We should not dignify these monsters with the name ISIS

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