The name “situation” with IS, ISIS, ISIL, or Da’esh

I hope this is the last post I wrote about ISIS (but I’m afraid it won’t be).

There is an ongoing debate not only about the “thing” but also about the “name of the thing” ISIS, ISIL, IS, or Daesh.


Shall we call it ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria)?

ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) as Obama calls it?

Or simply IS (Islamic State) as they now want us to call them?


The French (who are always very politically correct) have recently agreed that they will refuse to call it “state”, as it is a terrorist organisation. From now on, they will use the Arabic “Daesh”, which is by the way  the Arabic acronym that stands for “Islamic State of Iraq and Sham” (greater Syria, or Levant). In the end, the word “dawla” (state) is still there.

Perhaps as Allison Kaplan Sommers points out in this useful recap, Daesh is probably the name that mostly bothers them, cause it looks like a derogatory moniker.

True, I’ve sometimes heard my Syrian friends joking :

“I am with Daesh without the letters D, A” (أنا مع داعش بدون د ا)

The joke is not easy to make into English, but the word “Daesh” without the letters “D” and “A” becomes عش , “nest”.

We can speculate about what “I am with the nest” might mean, but I think you can figure it out, and that’s maybe why “Daesh” people are so bothered.


Yet, I am afraid that, as Shakespeare wrote in “Romeo and Juliet”:


“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
 By any other name would smell as sweet”.


I’m afraid that we’re not talking about anything as sweet as a rose.

Whatever we call it, in the end ISIS/ISIL/IS/Daesh will still smell the same:





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