In a rare victory for ‘common sense’ within the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the director general of the organisation has rejected a call from Members of Parliament to stop using the word ‘Islamic’ when describing terrorist group ISIS.
Rehman Chishti, a Muslim, Conservative Party MP wrote to the BBC urging that they change the name they use on air from ‘Islamic State’ to ‘Daesh’, a derogatory term used by allies of Bashar al-Assad to refute ISIS’s Islamic heritage.
The French government bowed to such calls last year, with Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius stating, “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. The Arabs call it ‘Daesh’ and I will be calling them the ‘Daesh cutthroats’.”
But Mr Chishti and 119 fellow MPs, including London Mayor Boris Johnson, have had their recommendation turfed out by the BBC, which has defended its position, bizarrely, on the basis of “impartiality” towards ISIS.
“There is no tradition as I understand it, of acronyms in Arabic,” Lord Hall wrote back, “and the word Da’esh is not an acronym… but instead a pejorative name coined in Arabic by [ISIS’] enemies including Assad supporters…
“The BBC takes a common sense view when deciding how to describe organisations, we take our cue from the organisation’s description of itself.
“We have recognised that used on its own the name Islamic State could suggest that such a state exists and such an interpretation is misleading. So we have caveated the name “Islamic State” with words which qualify it eg “so called Islamic State”.”
The news comes just days after Prime Minister David Cameron hit out at the BBC for using “Islamic State”, instead saying he prefers “ISIL”, leading to widespread mockery, given that ISIL is an acronym for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant”.
Critics have noted that the BBC however continues to refuse to label attacks by groups like Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad as “terrorist attacks”.