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Opinion: Use the Name ‘Daesh’, Not ‘ISIS-K’ When Speaking About Afghanistan

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Khorasan literally has nothing to do with DAESH. This is a political smearing tactic, a way to negatively portray both the concepts of Islam and Khorasan.

Say it with me: They are DAESH, not ISIS-K. DAESH are the terrorists who killed over 170 Afghans and 13 American soldiers in Kabul, on 8/26/21. DAESH are the enemy, and they inflict hate and terror no matter which country they are in.

As a Muslim, and an Afghan-American, I ask this of you: do not call this terrorist group ISIS-K. I ask this because the name ISIS-K negatively associates the word Islam, and the word Khorasan (that’s what the K represents) with hateful acts of terrorism. From here on, anytime you hear someone say ISIS-K, quickly denounce the name.

At first thought, it may seem unimportant — “what’s in name” mentality for some. Well, I’m here to explain why the linguistics behind this ISIS-K is very tricky, and using the words Islam and Khorasan negatively really does matter in the big picture. Plus, DAESH themselves have stated they hate the name DAESH so much because it is derogatory in its original Arabic meaning — well I say all the more reason to use it!

Islam from its etymology (from the root word Salam; or “peace” in Arabic), down to its core beliefs, means peace and submission. Why should we allow the word Islam to be in a terrorist group’s name? It is a disgrace. We need to stand together as a community to denounce the name ISIS once and for all.

Now to add a cherry on top of this ISIS debacle; they have added a K for Khorasan. I was thoroughly shocked to hear this personally. To hear President Biden say ISIS and Khorasan in the same sentence — well it sounded much like an oxymoron. What does Khorasan even have to do with DAESH? It is not even the current name of Afghanistan, it was an older name used years ago!

You may not know what Khorasan even means yet (keep reading). Yet hearing Khorasan tacked onto the name of ISIS; well it wires the brain of many, that it must be something very bad. This is basically how negative connotations are created in language: by negative associations and emotions.

Literally, Khorasan means “land of the sun,” and historically — we are talking hundreds of years ago — Khorasan was the former name of a large region of land in Afghanistan today. Khorasan refers to a beautiful time; a time of peace and many still support Khorasan as a name, and way of life, for what is now Afghanistan. Why, oh why, is this word being tacked onto the end of ISIS?

Well, when Khorasan literally has nothing to do with DAESH, it makes zero sense. This is a political smearing tactic, a way to negatively portray both the concepts of Islam and Khorasan.

In actuality, Islam and Khorasan have positive and enlightening meanings right in their own definitions. If you have a Muslim friend, neighbor, or doctor; I would rest assured that you know for yourself what true Islam embodies: kindness, peace, a sense of community. Likewise, if you are a Tajik or Hazara from Afghanistan; you most likely stand with, and support Khorasan.

In protests on 8/28/21 worldwide for Afghanistan, we saw many Khorasan supporters waving the black, white, and green flag of Khorasan as well as many Afghans within the country standing with the resistance forces.

Where Khorasan once was historically, many Tajiks today are leading a resistance, and they are fighting for Khorasan. They wave their black, white, and green flags proudly; and with what resources they do have, are standing up to the Taliban affectively. They want to free Khorasan once again for their country. They are brave, they are determined, and most who are anti-Taliban, support the Tajik Resistance and hence, this notion to free Khorasan.

Obviously, this political smearing of the word Khorasan shows one thing: that the West and other foreign nations don’t support the Tajik Resistance within Afghanistan. Tajiks and other ethnic groups like Hazaras and Uzbeks are the ones standing up and fighting the Taliban today.

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So I seriously question this: Why does the West not support the Tajik Resistance? Why is the West smearing the very name, Khorasan, which the Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks, and many more are vigilantly fighting for? Tajiks want peace and freedom. The Taliban in stark contrast want to marry off girls as child brides and are killing people in the streets of Kabul.

Khorasan literally means “land of the sun,” and evokes a brighter time of peace and culture. Most other ethnic groups support this name for the land, first and foremost because it is inclusive.

Khorasan by name is inclusive because it includes all ethnic groups found within Afghanistan. On the other hand, the current name Afghanistan means “land of Afghans” by definition, with Afghan stemming from the root word “Awghan”. Thus, “Awghan” is just one of the many ethnicities found in this land today. Other ethnicities besides Awghans include Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazaras, Baluchis, and more. To these other ethnic groups, it was a big change when their land of Khorasan, was renamed to specifically “Afghan”istan.

To put it in perspective: It would kind of be like if the US changed its name to Whiteistan. Well yes, white people do live in America, and some may love that name change…but what about everyone else? Would you feel comfortable calling yourself a “Whiteistani” if you are by ethnicity Hispanic, Black, or Asian? It is putting one ethnic group above others when there is no reason to do that — other than politics or pride.

There has been a pushback by the other ethnic groups about this country’s “name” issue in Afghanistan for a long time. As you see, linguistics does matter.

Overall, I feel it is definitely strategic that the West is suddenly calling DAESH by the name of ISIS-K. They are trying to give Islam and Khorasan a “bad name” by associating these terms with the terrorist group.

DAESH hate the name DAESH for themselves because it is derogatory — well I find terrorism disgusting, and I know most sane people will agree. This is why I am calling to my community and readers to start now, say it loud, and say it now: They are DAESH, not ISIS-K.

Islam denounces DAESH. Believers in Khorasan, and the Tajik resistance, denounce DAESH and they are in fact the only remaining soldiers fighting DAESH today in Afghanistan. If you are anti-Taliban, you too should in fact be pro-Khorasan!

The terminology behind ISIS-K is incorrect and the name needs to be denounced here and now, please support me in this change and say the words: They are DAESH, not ISIS-K.

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