One thing that I noticed when I first heard media coverage of an Islamist group rising to power in Syria was that it was continually referred to as “the group calling itself ISIS” or “the group known as ISIL”. If it had been one media outlet or one program, it might have slipped by. But it wasn’t: it was a standardized fixture of official coverage of the group.
In recent months, particularly since the deadly Paris attacks that claimed the lives of 129, there has been a seemingly strategic shift to the word “Daesh” to describe the organization. Why does this matter? And what impact does it hold for the future of Western relations to the Middle East?
Continue reading “Call them Daesh: Names, Meaning and ISIS”
Since it first began capturing Iraqi towns in 2014, the militant group ISIS has become notorious for its widespread use of violence and atrocity. However, as Robyn Creswell and Bernard Haykel point out in The New Yorker, this violence is only one of the qualities defining the Islamic State. For the brutal acts of violence for which ISIS have become famous is juxtaposed with something decidedly more elegant: Arabic poetry. Such poetry, written by militants and figures like Ahlam al-Nasr, the so-called “Poetess of the Islamic State,” offer a key look into the narratives and art forms involved in the Islamic State’s spread.
Continue reading “The Poetry of ISIS: Is it Literature?”