After the latest development on ISIS’s way to build its dream caliphate – reaching the Sinai Peninsula- the Egyptian Foreign Ministry has decided to issue a style guide document regarding the description of the terrorist group in the Middle East for the foreign press corps based in Cairo. Although, there have been some discussions in the Arab speaking world whether the media should stop labeling ISIS/IS/ISIL (which literally stands for “The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria/Levant”), up till now there were no legal restrictions for the international media.
Among other, Egyptian Foreign Ministry asks journalists to refrain from using especially terms such as Islamist,jihadists, Islamic State, Caliphate – which are ISIS’s own descriptions of itself and its mission on Earth- in order not to perpetuate “negative connotations which are largely based on heinous stereotypes and ill-informed predisposition”*.
Censorship is not uncommon in Egypt, a country which had a 30 year dictatorship followed by a harsh and dramatic transition to a Muslim Brotherhood government eventually overturn in a military coup. Nevertheless, this official stance of the Egyptian authorities seems to suggests fear of an escalation in tensions with the majority population – conservative in its Muslim beliefs.
The tensions between moderate and hard-line Muslims has been growing since the topple of former elected President Morsi in July 2013 by the the Egyptian military corps lead by General Al-Sisi, the current leader of the country.
Internal problems of Egypt are enhanced at present times by the threat of the Islamic State which has infiltrated the Sinai Peninsula, leading to a terrorist attack that has killed over 80 Egyptian soldiers. Both Egyptian and Israeli leaders have stated the will collaborate in order to eliminate the jihadist group from the area.
*quote from the official document issued today by Egypt’s Foreign Affairs Ministry