BBC won’t use 'Daesh' instead of 'Islamic State'

BBC responds to British Prime Minister David Cameron's criticism of organisation using term of ‘Islamic State’ for ISIS, saying using alternative name of ‘Daesh’ would not be impartial

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Britain's public-service broadcaster has rejected calls for it to stop using the term "Islamic State" to refer to ISIS, following a rebuke from British Prime Minister David Cameron.

The head of the BBC, Tony Hall, claimed that "using Daesh would not preserve the BBC’s impartiality as it risked giving an impression of support for the group’s opponents," as the term is used derogatorily, the Times reported. He said the BBC could use the term “Islamic State group” to make clear the militant organisation is not a true state.

The BBC have been asked to stop using the term by a cross-party group of MPs, led by Rehman Chishti and including Boris Johnson and Alex Salmond. British Prime Minister David Cameron joined in the criticism in a the BBC Radio 4 interview, saying that he preferred the terms "so-called Islamic State" or "ISIL".

"I wish the BBC would stop calling it 'Islamic State' because it is not an Islamic state," he said during an interview, three days after a brutal attack by the group which killed at least 30 British citizens at a popular resort in the Tunisian city of Sousse.

"What it is is an appalling barbarous regime that is a perversion of the religion of Islam and many Muslims will recoil every time they hear the words," the prime minister added.

"So-called or Isil is better," Cameron said.

The letter from the MPs urged the BBC to adopt the term “Daesh,” which is the Arabic acronym of the group's name that also resembles the Arabic word “Dahes,” meaning “one who sows discord.”

The term Daesh has been used across the Middle East to refer to the militant group, and has been adopted the French and Turkish governments.

During a Commons debate when Cameron was asked about his stance on adopting the Arabic name, he responded that he is not expecting the BBC to change its practice.

“I don’t think we’ll move them all the way to Daesh so I think saying Isil is probably better than Islamic State because it is neither in my view Islamic nor a state,” he said.

TRTWorld and agencies