I was finally able to remember that ISIS, the jihadist group that’s rolling through Iraq now, stands for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Learned it well enough to type it without having to look it up every time (don’t count just now, when I originally typed Iran instead of Iraq). Then this afternoon I turned on the TV and heard some politician in Washington say “ISIL.” Huh?
Oh yes. The media may be sticking to ISIS, but it seems the U.N., the U.S. State Department, and Pres. Obama, among others, prefer ISIL — Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. And now so does the Associated Press.
Nobody is requiring I follow their style anymore, and I don’t have a current stylebook, but the AP offers the following reason for changing from ISIS to ISIL:
In Arabic, the group is known as Al-Dawla Al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham, or the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. The term “al-Sham” refers to a region stretching from southern Turkey through Syria to Egypt (also including Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan). The group’s stated goal is to restore an Islamic state, or caliphate, in this entire area.
The standard English term for this broad territory is “the Levant.” Therefore, AP’s translation of the group’s name is the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.
The Levant, eh? First time I’ve heard that. Anyway, it will be interesting to see if and how fast the media switch to ISIL, since most usually follow AP style.
These are the things editors get paid to worry about. And since I’m not being paid anymore …