GRAPHIC-170-IS-C What’s in a name?

Quite a lot, actually. Ask any brand manager. Like the one who famously decided that you’re “never alone” with a Strand cigarette actually left you utterly alone and possibly suicidal beside the Thames. Or the Pinto car that suggested all of its South American drivers had a small penis.

The Kharij (or Khawarij) was an extreme Islamic sect that emerged shortly after the Prophet Muhammad’s death during the Battle of Siffin in the 7th century, near the Syrian-Iraqi border.

That battle was waged between the forces of the fourth caliph Ali ibn Abi Talib and the Muslim governor of Syria.

The sect initially supported Ali’s camp but denounced leaders of both sides for even agreeing to arbitration to end the hostilities. It believed that any form of negotiation was tantamount to tolerating aberrations of the faith as they interpreted it.

Several thousand Kharij broke away and settled around Kufa in Iraq. Ali ibn Abi Talib sent a representative to persuade them to return to the fold. A few did but the majority insisted that their interpretation of the Koran was the only true and correct one.

In their view, any Muslim who did not agree with them was deemed a heretic who could be put to the sword without mercy.

The Kharij itself has dwindled into obscurity today, but many have pointed out that its radical heritage has been adopted and refashioned by the modern day Islamic State, as it has the pretension to call itself.

Now of late, the British Prime Minister David Cameron has suggested that the UK media should refrain from calling this movement by its chosen name, and instead refer to it as DA-ESH which is a loose Arabic acronym of al-Dawla al-Islamiya al-Iraq al-Sham (Islamic State of Iraq & the Levant).

The selection of the term Da-esh was first selected by the Arabic and Iranian media,
which was hostile to the general extreme jihadist movement , because it excluded both terms Islamic and State.

Therefore the term is roundly loathed by that extreme religious sect in itself, in the same way that members of the German National Socialist Party during World War Two hated the Nationalsozialismus acronym of Nazis. Especially the way that Winston Churchill pronounced it.

I find that I rarely agree with any major decisions that David Cameron makes, but in pure international PR (interpreted here as ‘communications with the masses) terms, he has a point.

He and others claim that Da-esh is not “Islamic”. Well, unfortunately it is. It is not the modern, secular and sane Islam accepted in Tunisia, Turkey and Jordan, for example, and what the West generally would consider to be ‘civilised society’.

But it is a primitive, medieval and unforgiving religious culture that was once similarly seen within Christian history, when anyone who didn’t agree with the Church’s own narrow view of God (or Allah) was for the chop.

Neither is Da-esh a “State” – in any way, shape or form. It’s a bunch of murderous brigands who have hi-jacked a religion for control and power (and ultimately wealth) over others, namely its brain-washed, poorly educated minions, most of whom cannot even read the Qu’ran, let alone begin to understand it.

It expands naturally into any geographical or political area where a failed state leaves a vacuum that needs to be filled. It’s not God or Allah but the natural order of things. There is no legitimacy, only coercion by terror.

So, for once, let’s follow Cameron’s lead and refer in the media throughout the world to that bunch of murderous, inhumane terrorists as the sick religious cult that it actually is, the Da-esh.