16 October 2014

PM: ‘Islamic State’ name ‘an insult to Islam’

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Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking on ITV’s The Agenda on Monday about terrorist group ISIS, notably referred to the group as “so-called Islamic State, ”adding: “I don’t think we should call them that because it’s an insult to Islam”.

David Cameron. Photo: Wikimedia Commons via Russavia
David Cameron. Photo: Wikimedia Commons via Russavia

The change in approach comes after a letter to the Prime Minister from prominent British Muslims asked that he and others stop referring to the group as ‘Islamic State’. The letter, signed by the President of the Islamic Society of Britain and Imams from London, Leeds and Leicester, said:

“We do not believe the terror group responsible should be given the credence and standing they seek by styling themselves Islamic State. It is neither Islamic, nor is it a state.

“The group has no standing with faithful Muslims, nor among the international community of nations. It clearly will never accept the obligations that any legitimate state has, including the responsibility to protect citizens and uphold human rights.

“So we believe the media, civic society and governments should refuse to legitimise these ludicrous caliphate fantasies by accepting or propagating this name.”

The use of ‘so-called Islamic State’, or simply ‘ISIS’ to describe the group has become more common in recent weeks. Media outlets have also moved away from shock headlines and images of ISIS hostages in captivity.

Civic Muslim voices believe that changing the way we refer to ISIS could, in a small way, help to de-legitimise them and make clear, particularly to impressionable young British Muslims, that there is nothing ‘Islamic’ about group and its activities.

Commenting on Cameron’s remarks Sughra Ahmed, President of the Islamic Society of Britain, and one of the signatories to the aforementioned letter, said: “The Prime Minister’s comments are most welcome as it is so important to de-legitimise this group, and spread the message that they simply are not a state, and are not Islamic.”

Speaking about the campaign in The Sun newspaper to unite British people of all faiths against ISIS, Cameron also said that while no-one had to speak out against ISIS he felt that campaigns such as #NotInMyName were “very powerful” and said that it was a “credit to British Muslims who make such a contribution to our country, that they wanted to stand up and say this thing so powerfully.”

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