The Islamic State, IS, ISIS, and ISIL: it is hard for governments, journalists, and average citizens to keep track of the name of the terrorist group in Syria and Iraq. Adding to the confusion, the French government has come out against all of these names, opting instead for the acronym “Daesh.”
“This is a terrorist group and not a state,” said Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. “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.'”
Daesh comes from ISIS’s full name of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. In Arabic, it is called al-Dawla al-Islamiya al-Iraq al-Sham. The terrorist group does not like Daesh because it removes “Islamic” and “State” from the name. The name also shows disrespect towards the group. Residents in Mosul told the Associated Press the jihadists “threatened to cut the tongue of anyone who publicly used the acronym Daesh.” From France 24:
Beyond the acronym, “Daesh” sounds lie [sic] the Arabic “Daes,” meaning “one who crushes something underfoot” as well as “Dahes,” which means “one who sows discord.”
Dahes is also a reference to the Dahes wal Ghabra period of chaos and warfare between Arab tribes which is famous in the Arab world as one of the precursors of the Muslim age.
After Fabius made the announcement, his office issued a press release that used Daesh instead of the more common acronym ISIS.