The shocking attack last week at a peaceful Tunisian tourist resort has shown us once again that terror continues to be a threat. There is no question that the group behind this attack, which refers to itself as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) or as “Islamic State” is an evil terror organisation. But I believe that for too long we have allowed them to define themselves as something which they are not, and now we need to change how we label them. This is why I have started a campaign to get the government, the BBC, and other organisations to alter the title that they use.
In the wake of the horrific Tunisian attacks, our resolve to fight terrorism at home and abroad means we should not give credence to the propaganda which is being used to suck more vulnerable, disillusioned and some clearly dangerous individuals to their cause.
You may wonder - what’s so important about a name? But names have a significance because their impact, as Professor James Bruning has said, “comes from how people expect to see you.” By referring to them as the 'Islamic State' they gain legitimacy where none should exist.
The atrocities they have committed in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere clearly demonstrate that they have no right to be called a state. We all know what a state looks like – it is internationally and legally recognised as one, has a defined sovereign territory and ordered institutions. This group has none of these things, and ignores international law and norms.
Nor are they Islamic. This criminal gang is distorting a peaceful religion for its own violent ends, which the vast majority of Muslims, here in the UK and around the world, find despicable and insulting. I have spent time travelling the country, speaking with communities and holding meetings in mosques, and I have found that people from far and wide are deeply upset that their faith is being linked with these terrorists and their monstrous acts.
My campaign to get the Government and the BBC to call these criminals by their true identity - 'Daesh' - has now secured the backing of over 125 MPs from across the political spectrum, and earlier, on the BBC Today Programme, the Prime Minister joined us. As he said: “It’s not an Islamic State; what it is, is an appalling, barbarous regime.” I applaud this statement by the Prime Minister, and call for the next step: to stop calling them Isis or Isil all together.
In pictures: Anti-Isis protests in Jordan
In pictures: Anti-Isis protests in Jordan
1/15 Amman, Jordan
Members of Jordan's Al Assaf tribe burn a ''Wanted Dead'' poster of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi at a rally
2/15 Amman, Jordan
Jordanian protesters carry an effigy of leader of the militant Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, during a march after Friday prayers in downtown Amman
3/15 Amman, Jordan
Jordanian Queen Rania (C) holds a placard during a demonstration to express solidarity with the pilot murdered by the Islamic State
4/15 Amman, Jordan
A protester dressed in a Jordanian flag joins others as they hold up pictures of Jordanian King Abdullah and Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh, while chanting slogans during a march against Islamic State
5/15 Amman, Jordan
Jordanians hold banners shouting slogans during a demonstration to express their solidarity with the pilot murdered by the Islamic State
6/15 Amman, Jordan
Jordanians carry banners and pictures of executed Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kassasbeh while shouting slogans against the group calling themselves the Islamic State, during a march after noon pray in downtown Amman
7/15 Amman, Jordan
Protesters hold up pictures of Jordan's King Abdullah and pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh as they chant slogans during a rally in Amman to show their loyalty to the King and against the Islamic State
8/15 Amman, Jordan
Jordanians chant slogans to show their support for the government against terror during a rally
9/15 Amman, Jordan
Jawdat al-Kaseasbeh, a brother of slain Jordanians pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh, reacts to people gathering to show their support for the government against terror during a rally
10/15 Amman, Jordan
A Jordanian protester kisses a poster bearing the image of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh during a rally to show their loyalty to King Abdullah and against the Islamic State
11/15 Amman, Jordan
A Jordanian shouts slogans during a rally against the Islamic state group and in reaction to the burning alive of Jordanian pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh by the group's militants
12/15 Amman, Jordan
Jordanians carry pictures of pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh at a protest against Islamic State
13/15 Amman, Jordan
Supporters and family members of Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh express their anger at his murder at the tribal gathering chamber in Amman, Jordan
14/15 Aye Village, Karak, Jordan
The King of Jordan, Abdullah II (L), embracing Safi al-Kassasbeh (R), the father of the recently executed Jordanian pilot
15/15 Aye Village, Karak, Jordan
Jordan's Queen Rania offers her condolences to the family of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh, at their family home of Muath
REUTERS/Petra News Agency
So what is an alternative name for them? There is one title that has gained traction across the Middle East, which is an Arabic acronym for the group’s name. The word they use is “Daesh” which also holds negative connotations. It is similar to the word “Daes” meaning “one who crushes something underfoot” and “Dahes” meaning “one who sows discord”.
In September last year, France officially adopted this title. The French Foreign Minister urged media outlets to refer to the group as Daesh because, as he said, the Islamic State “blurs the lines between Islam, Muslims and Islamists.”
We need to change the way we speak about this organisation and decouple it from religion, which for too long has been hijacked to justify terrorist acts. Joining our international partners and uniting around one name – Daesh, would certainly help.Reuse content