Watching the news over the past months, I have gradually become aware of a distinct shift in usage, which was mirrored in German news coverage a matter of days after I first noticed it in the UK.
When ISIL/ISIS declared that they were dropping the last two letters of their name and wished to be called "Islamic State", most of the media in the UK and the German television outlet I watch (ZDF) appeared to dutifully comply.
A couple of weeks later, however, I first heard "so-called Islamic State" being used on the BBC, and it appeared to me that it began to follow a pattern. The first mention of the organization in any report appeared to be "so-called Islamic State", and thereafter, "Islamic State" or "IS" were used. At the same time, I noticed similar uses in the various online newspapers.
Even more remarkably, I noticed that one of the German state television channels was doing exactly the same thing ("der sogenannte Islamische Staat").
Now, a few weeks later still, it seems to have dropped off a little, with most outlets seeming to prefer "IS", although if "Islamic State" is used, it is frequently prefixed with "so-called", at least once in a report or news slot.
Clearly, it is absolutely understandable why this is being done. IS is under no reasonable definition a state, and for the vast majority of Muslims, it is not Islamic.
I just wonder whether the simultaneous occurrence of the phenomenon in so many news channels, even in separate countries suggests some kind of briefing by governments.
What are all you guys hearing in your corners of the world?
For some useful information on the various names of the organization and on what approach the French have adopted, have a look at this article from the Independent.
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End of topic.