Target: Secretary of State John Kerry
Goal: Thank Secretary Kerry for switching from using the problematic term “ISIS” to the more appropriate “Daesh”
President Barack Obama’s administration has begun to shift the language it uses to refer to the Islamic extremist group from “ISIS” to “Daesh,” the acronym for the group’s full Arabic name. Though this may seem like an insignificant shift in United States policy, it carries with it a number of very important implications for the countries dealings with the group. Commend Secretary of State John Kerry for shifting the administration’s language away from ISIS and toward Daesh.
Secretary of State John Kerry, during a recent speech in Brussels, began to refer to the terrorist group known commonly as ISIS as “Daesh.” This is an important language shift for a number of reasons. One, Daesh absolutely hates being called by this name–while it is an accurate acronym for the group’s full Arabic name, it is also a play on words, sounding like an Arabic word for “bigot who imposes his views on others.” The group hates it so much that it has already threatened to cut out the tongues of anyone who uses it. Two, refusing to call Daesh by their preferred name of “Islamic State” denies the group legitimacy on the international stage. And three, removing references to Islam and nationhood from the group’s name denies the group the monopoly on Islam and its interpretation that they seek, and that Islamophobes use to conflate all Muslims with terrorists.
Secretary Kerry’s shift in language is an important step in delegitimizing Daesh and in countering the Islamophobia that the group has increased here in America. We must encourage the government to continue to use this language when referring to, and dealing with, this group. Sign the petition below to thank the secretary and the administration he represents for refining their language.
Dear Secretary Kerry,
I am writing you today about your recent use of the term “Daesh” to refer to the extremist group commonly called ISIS, ISIL, or Islamic State. Specifically, I wanted to take the time to applaud you and the administration’s shift in language used to refer to this group.
As I’m sure you know, this change carries with it a couple significant implications. First and foremost, refusing to call Daesh by the name they prefer–“Islamic State” or the variations thereof–keeps us from playing into their narrative and denies them legitimacy. Additionally, as your French colleague Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius put it, “This is a terrorist group and not a state. I do not recommend using the term Islamic State because it blurs the line between Islam, Muslims, and Islamists.” Referring to the group as Daesh instead of Islamic State or its variants sends a clear message that the United States rejects the idea that all Muslims should be conflated with the likes of Daesh or considered potential terrorists.
While subtle, this shift in language is very important. I thank you for it and I hope to see you and other members of the administration use Daesh instead of ISIS, ISIL, or Islamic State more and more frequently in the future.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Ralph Alswang/Center for American Progress Action Fund via Flickr