Don't Say ISIS: Egypt Publishes Official Guide to Reporting on Latest Conflict

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Egyptian militants drive through the small Sinai village of Sheikh Zuweid. August 10, 2013Credit: AFP

Foreign journalists in Egypt must not use the term "ISIS" when reporting on, well, ISIS, a new guide issued by Egypt's Foreign Ministry on Saturday instructed.

According to the guide, which was issued several days after a series of coordinated attacks by an ISIS-affiliated group killed dozens in the Sinai Peninsula, the so-called Islamic State group must not be referred to in religious terms, as these "tarnish the image of Islam as it falsely attaches the horrendous acts of these extremist groups to the Islamic faith."

Among the terms that must not be used in relation to ISIS are Islamists, Islamic State, Jihadists, and fundamentalists. The guide also attached a short definition of each term: For instance, Jihadists were defined as: "One engaged in personal struggle in devotion to Islam especially involving spiritual discipline."

According to the guide, when describing extremists the terminologies used "should not be associated with any religion or affiliated with any faith even if these groups falsely claim to base their horrifying acts on religion and associate their gruesome deeds with faith."

The guide went on to suggest terms that may be used when describing terrorist groups, among them: Terrorists, extremists, criminals, savages, murderers, killer, slayers, assassins and so forth.

The website Middle East Eye noted that international media has repeatedly raised the issue of what name to use when referring to ISIS, variously known as Islamic State, ISIL, IS, and by the Arabic acronym Daesh.

Egypt's Foreign Ministry issues foreign press corps a style guide for how we should describe terrorist groups.

Recently, British Prime Minister David Cameron, who refers to the group as "ISIL," criticized the BBC for referring to the group as "Islamic State."

"I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State because it's not an Islamic State; what it is is an appalling, barbarous regime," Cameron said during a BBC interview, according to the Daily Mail.

In response to a letter signed by 120 British MPs and backed by Cameron asking the BBC to use the term "Daesh," the BBC refused, saying the term would damage their impartiality as it is "pejorative," the Independent reported Thursday.

However, the BBC said the term "Islamic State" could be misleading, as it could suggest that such a state exists. The BBC said it would from now on caveat the term, using "so-called Islamic State" instead.

In September 2014, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius also rejected the use of the term "Islamic State," and favored the use of the Arabic acronym.

"I, for my part, will call them Daesh butchers, because these people have raped, crucified, murdered and we shall all mobilize to push back, neutralize and finally get rid of them," Fabius told lawmakers in Paris, the International Business Times reported at the time.

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