The violent terror group, also known as IS, ISIS or Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has been recently been referred to as Daesh by Canadian leaders including the prime minister and public safety minister marking a notable change in policy from last December.
“ISIL is no state and never will be,” said Chantal Gagnon, a spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion, in an email Tuesday. “Daesh is also an increasingly common name that is understood more widely throughout the region.
Canada’s Defence Department is also making the transition to the new wording.
“The Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces are currently in the process of transitioning our verbiage towards using ‘Daesh,’” said DND spokesman Daniel Lebouthillier in an email. “We are following the lead of senior governmental officials in this regard, while aligning our language with that used by other Allies working in the area.”
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said in the 2016 Public Report on the Terrorist Threat to Canada published last week that the Trudeau government will use Daesh as the name for the group going forward.
“This group is neither Islamic nor a state, and so will be referred to as Daesh (its Arabic acronym) in this Report,” said Goodale.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used the term at a press conference last week referring to Canada’s military role in Iraq as part of the “coalition against Daesh.”
The Conservative party has also begun using the term in Daesh in statements and other communications.
What does Daesh mean?
Daesh is an acronym that stands for the Arabic name of the Islamic State: Al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham.
The Islamic State has reportedly banned the use of the word in the territory it controls, and people who use it risk having their tongues cut out. The Boston Globe reported last year the word “Daesh” can be a pejorative term, translated to mean “a bigot who imposes his view on others” or “to trample down and crush.”
Canada joins Britain, France and the U.S. in using Daesh when referring to the terrorist organization.
Last December, Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion told reporters his preference was to use “the so-called Islamic State” to avoid confusion.
“My own preference is the ‘so-called Islamic State’ because people understand what it is,” Dion told reporters. “With Daesh, I’m not sure many people will understand what we are speaking about.”
Last year, former British prime minister David Cameron explained why his government was making the switch.
“Frankly this evil death cult is neither a true representation of Islam nor is it a state,” Cameron told the House of Commons.
On Tuesday, an investigation by the Associated Press documenting the atrocities committed by IS in Iraq and Syria found dozens of mass graves containing 5,000 to 15,000 bodies.
*With a file from Monique Muise