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ISIS Acronym Woes

Good ISIS vs Bad ISIS

The gravity of the ongoing Iraq crisis is not to be undermined, but there are many in the West who are voicing their exasperations for slightly less critical reasons. Sharing a name with Isis, the extremist militant Islamic group that has swept across the Middle East, is certainly unfortunate for other Isis entities – and there are a lot of them.

Despite the fact that Isis have recently updated their acronym to just IS (Islamic State), social media and the public still tend to favour the catchier Isis option. This is presenting a real challenge to the reputation and business interests of many peaceful and commendable companies that have no intentions of strengthening their hold over the Middle East in the name of Allah.

British institute and purveyor of all things middle class, Marks & Spencer, are adamantly declaring that they have ‘no plans’ to rebrand their Isis toiletry range, despite unfavourable Twitter gossip and Jihadi quips. Twitter users latched onto the company’s tagline, saying: ‘These are not just Jihadi toiletries, these are M&S Jihadi toiletries’.

An M&S spokesperson explained that the perfume and body spray range has been around for a quarter of a decade and that the company was confident that the brand was recognisable in its own right. The name was inspired by the Egyptian goddess Isis, the goddess of women and femininity, which seems incongruous with the ultra-conservative and misogynistic rules of (bad) Isis who declare that women must be covered head-to-toe and are house bound unless for absolute emergencies.

Last week the PR firm, Bell Pottinger, was forced to publicly deny that it had been hired by Isis after a satirical website joked of a $10m deal. The Dubai-based website, the Pan Arabic Enquirer, wisecracked that the PR company would ‘oversee and promote the jihadist group’s growing international image in a 36-month deal rumoured by insiders to be worth as much as $10 million’. However, the firm’s chairman understandably did not take the joke well, stating that he was surprised that the subject of a terrorist organisation would be an appropriate subject for humour, so recently after their murder of two American journalists.

The Washington think tank, the Institute for Science and International Security, is irate over the unfortunate name clash, which is embarrassing the highly regarded, nonpartisan non-profit outfit. The irony is that the organisation has been tracking security issues surrounding atomic weapons and proliferation activities for nearly 20 years in countries like Iraq, Syria and Iran. David Albright, head of (good) Isis, says that ‘it’s definitely an issue. We’ve rang congressional offices and had people snicker when we’ve left messages in the name of Isis’. The organisation posted a plea on its website saying that they ‘would like to urge media and foreign policy analysts to no longer refer to Al-Dawla Al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham by the name ‘ISIS’ but to choose another alternative’. ADAIFAIWAS anyone?

The problem for groups like (good) Isis is that they are in the same social media sphere of international security as (bad) Isis; although one is a terrorist group and the other is a counter-terrorist group, ‘Isis’ as a term is really dominating search engines.

The think tank is not alone in this problem, although other Isis acronyms (such as the financial advisory firm Isis Financial Planners) have managed to elude most of the embarrassment as they have a very limited social media presence.

The Telegraph reports that despite the prominence of Isis, the website addresses www.isis.com is still available for sale.

For those who are interested, here is a long list of the many other (good) Isis organisations in operation at the moment:

International Species Information System – the world’s most current, comprehensive and reliable source of knowledge on intensively managed species and their environments for zoos, aquariums and related organisations.

Institute of Science in Society - co-founded in 1999 by scientists Mae-Wan Ho and Peter Saunders to provide critical yet accessible and reliable information to the public and policy makers.

Institute for the Study of Interdisciplinary Sciences - a British educational charity.

Institute for the Secularisation of Islamic Society - organisation of writers that promotes the ideas of secularism, democracy and human rights within Islamic society.

ISIS Foundation

The ISIS Group - a partnership between an international development organisation (The ISIS Foundation) and a corporate advisory business (ISIS Asia Pacific). The objective of ISIS Asia Pacific is to fund the core support costs of The ISIS Foundation.

International Spine Intervention Society

International Society on Infant Studies

ISIS Equity Partners

ISIS Europe

ISIS International - feminist advocacy organisation.

Institute of Strategic and International Studies - an association of dedicated professionals, who willingly devote their capabilities in a ethical way for the betterment of our local communities and the society in general.

Immigrant Settlement & Integration Services - welcomes immigrants to Nova Scotia.

ISIS Academy - sustainable development.

Infant Sleep Information Source - a collaboration between Durham University Parent-Infant Sleep Lab, La Leche League, NCT, and UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative, funded by a grant from the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council).

ISIS Arts - working internationally with artists to produce and present contemporary art, film and new media.

Isis - Women’s International Cross Cultural Exchange.

ISIS - The Eating Issues Center.

Institute of Studies for the Integration of Systems – an Italian private research and consulting firm for energy and the environment.

Innovative Solutions In Space - small satellite company.

Plus countless other hotels, restaurants and spas taking their name from the Egyptian goddess. Although a certain Isis holds a high-profile on social media of late, lets hope that it doesn't tarnish the good name of the many other Isis operations.

Katie Rowley 

Recent graduate and now interning as content editor, when she's not writing articles Katie can quite likely be found festival-ing, holiday-ing or reading a book (dedicated English student that she is). Follow her @KatieAtSMF.

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ISIS Acronym Woes Reviewed by Katie Rowley on Friday, September 05, 2014 Rating: 5
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