What Is Daesh? ISIS' New Name Is An Insult To The Terrorist Organization

If you've wondered why world leaders, including President Obama, have started referring to the Islamic State, aka ISIS, as "Daesh" lately, you're not alone. The fact that these leaders are using the term now — following the deadly Paris attacks that left at least 129 people dead and which ISIS claimed responsibility for — is no coincidence. ISIS has claimed it was behind a number of international tragedies in recent months, so it's important to know about the terrorist organization that the United States, France, and other countries are facing. ISIS' alternate name, "Daesh," comes from an Arabic acronym for the group's full title and is considered an insult, so world leaders using the term is a way of fighting back.

Alice Guthrie, an Arabic translator, explains at the Free Word Centre's website that the term "Daesh" is "a transliteration of the Arabic acronym formed of the same words that make up 'ISIS' in English: 'Islamic State in Iraq and Syria,' or 'al-dowla al-islaamiyya fii-il-i'raaq wa-ash-shaam.'" And it's a term that ISIS itself is not pleased with — the terrorist group has threatened to cut out the tongues of anyone who uses the term. As Guthrie explains, using the term "Daesh," instead of "the Islamic State" or "ISIS," is refusing to acknowledge the organization as a state, which is how the group wants to be addressed. NBC News also notes that calling the organization the "Islamic State," rather than "Daesh," inherently "offers legitimacy to the group."

Of course, ISIS' dissatisfaction with "Daesh" is exactly why world leaders and media organizations are using the term. The Associated Press notes that Arab governments have used the term for a while, but it's catching on among leaders including President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, too. And when French President Francois Hollande held a press conference Saturday after the Paris massacre this weekend, he used the term, too, saying France "will be unforgiving with the barbarians from Daesh." Hollande said Saturday that France will be "merciless" against ISIS after the group claimed responsibility for the coordinated suicide mission in Paris.

By referring to ISIS as "Daesh" rather than as the "Islamic State," world leaders are taking a stand against terrorist propaganda and calling the group out for what it really is. It's a small change, but using the term "Daesh" will show ISIS that the United States, France, and other countries aren't afraid to fight back against the group's attacks. "ISIL is not Islamic... and [is] certainly not a state," President Obama has said of ISIS. To join Obama, Kerry, and Hollande in the fight against the group's attacks and propaganda, refer to it as "Daesh" instead of as ISIS — there's no reason to give the terrorist organization any respect or acknowledgement of its so-called statehood.