UK Government Dwells On How To Avoid Saying ‘Islamic State’, Decides On ‘Daesh’ To Avoid Offending Muslims


The British government has decided to start referring to the Islamic State as “Daesh” as it believes ISIS is “not a true representation of Islam.”

Speaking during the parliamentary debate on whether to launch UK airstrikes in Syria, Prime Minister David Cameron made a point of using the term, telling MPs:

“Having carefully considered the strong representations made to me by [Conservative MP Rehman Chishti], having listened to many members of parliament across the House, I think it’s time to join our key ally France, the Arab League and other members of the international community in using as frequently as possible the terminology Daesh rather than Isil because frankly this evil death cult is neither a true representation of Islam nor is it a state.”

According to the Guardian, a source at 10 Downing Street soon clarified that using the term Daesh instead of Isis, Isil or Islamic State would from now on be government policy.

The term is derived from the Arabic “Al-Dawla Al-Islamiya Fil Iraq Wa’al Sham”, literally translating as “Islamic State of Iraq and Sham”. Some favour the term as they claim it resembles the Arabic word “Dahes”, meaning “one who sows discord”, therefore making it a mild insult. Others claim it is also less offensive to Muslims in general.

The Foreign Office’s Twitter account dedicated to countering Islamic State propaganda has already changed its name from UKagainstISIL to UKagainstDaesh, while MPs from all parties started using the term in their speeches today.

Mr Chishti welcomed the Prime Minister’s decision and asked him to put pressure on the BBC to adopt the term. Mr Cameron agreed, saying: “I’ve already corresponded to the BBC about their use of IS, Islamic State, which I think is even worse, frankly, than either saying so-called IS or indeed Isil, but Daesh is clearly an improvement and I think it is important we all try and use this language.”

However, some have questioned whether it is really necessary. Founding chairman of the counter-extremist Quilliam Foundation Maajid Nawaz said using the term was “weird and silly” as it is just a direct Arabic translation of ISIL.

In July, the BBC rejected calls to refer to ISIS as “Daesh”, with Director General Tony Hall saying it would compromise the broadcaster’s impartiality as it risked giving the impression that the BBC supported the group’s opponents. The BBC currently calls it the “Islamic State group”.

Follow Nick Hallett on Twitter: or e-mail to:


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.