Terrorists took my daughter’s name

The terrorists have taken over. They’ve taken Jasmin’s middle name. It’s everywhere suddenly, and for the wrong reasons.

I open the newspaper and there it is, in bold, in the headlines above the fold. I turn on the morning and evening news and hear it again, at the top of the bulletin.

ISIS. It stands for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. It is a Jihadist group active in Iraq and Syria. Over the last few days I have heard repeatedly about the horror of its actions. The militant group is now at the heart of Iraq’s bloody civil war. It is continuing to tear a country and a people apart.

According to news outlets, ISIS was formed in April last year. This makes the group slightly older than my daughter, but only by a couple of months. And it is only recently that this band of terrorists have made it onto our news programmes with regularity.

When my daughter was born, almost a year ago, Tony and I had no knowledge of this group of militant fighters that had grown out of al-Qaeda in Iraq. When we came to naming our child, we were relieved and delighted by how straight-forward the process was this time round. We agreed on a first name quickly. I had always loved Jasmin, and when I shared this name with Tony, he loved it too. We both thought it suited her, our beautiful baby.

And then, almost as quickly and easily, we chose Isis as a middle name. It was Tony’s nod to Bob Dylan, one of his favourite singers. The lyrics of Isis, the second song on Desire, told of a mystical, enigmatic, powerful woman with an unforgettable smile. In the days of the ancient Egyptians, the goddess Isis had been worshipped far and wide and, as well as being the ideal mother and wife, was patron of nature and magic.

And so our Jasmin Isis got her name. Our lovely flower, our magical beauty – we simply felt that these two names were hers. We even felt a prick of pride at how our little girl was named relatively quickly. It was a remarkable contrast to the weeks we had spent weeks naming our son, unable to agree on the order of a first and middle name. He is still the boy with two names.


Jasmin’s name was meant to be simple. There wasn’t any debate over which order her first and middle name would go in, there wasn’t any lengthy discussion about spelling. Yet now, with every new news story about Iraq mentioning ISIS, an irrational anger is building inside me. I know those four letters don’t belong to my daughter, but I’m sad of the connotations they will forever have. I’m sad about the association and about the memory people will feel stir in their sub-concious when they hear it in years to come. I’m annoyed that a group of men who appear to not have a shred of decency, are claiming this name. I’m annoyed that my innocent, loving, bundle of fun is having her middle name used by people tearing their home country apart and killing their brothers.  I hope for many, many reasons that ISIS somehow disappear. Just one of those reasons is for Jasmin.

When I heard mention of ISIS on the news this morning, I also heard the words mass execution, violence and extremism.

When I turned my head and looked at my daughter, I heard another set of words in my head. They were magical, beautiful and beloved. To me, Isis will always be these things above all else.



22 Thoughts on “Terrorists took my daughter’s name

  1. Thanks Kiran glad to have found your well written passionate blog. Regards from Thom at the immortal jukebox (You really should have been there! Bob Dylan http://wp.me/p4pE0N-D via @wordpressdotcom) you may enjoy the linked post on Bob Dylan.

  2. Another beautiful and thoughtful post from you, despite the negativity now growing out of your daughter’s name. The rise of this terrorist group in such a short time is shocking.
    ‘Isis’ is such a lovely sounding name, it seems completely wrong in it’s new context.

  3. It’s lovely Kiran – I wouldn’t immediately have those associations at all and all that matters is what it means to you x

  4. It’s a beautiful name and will not be in any way diminished by current events.

  5. Love this post. Isis to me – is the Egyptian goddess and always will be. A beautiful name for a beautiful girl xx #sharewithme

  6. It is a beautiful name! And I am glad you will continue to associate it with all the magical great feelings you had about it in the first place. It’s hard to not let something negative like that just your feeling but so glad you are so positive and see the bigger picture of your gorgeous stunning beautiful daughter. As always what a beautiful tribute to your daughter and love the photo. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me. #sharewithme

  7. suzanne3childrenandit on June 18, 2014 at 2:55 pm said:

    Isis is a beautiful name and that will never change. Ignore the other connotation and as you say, hope that they crawl under a rock somewhere and get forgotten. I can understand your immediate upset over it but don’t forget the reason why you chose the name x

  8. Isis is my cousin’s daughter’s first name.

  9. I love that it feels you can be so much more lyrical with the choosing of a girl’s name than a boys, but it is so true that names are very subject to associations both positive and negative and its very easy to be put off a name when you are choosing by some negative association from the past. You will always know what it means to you though and this completely pre-dated it coming to mean anything negative to anyone. X #sharewithme

  10. There are so many bad groups out there that are changing the meaning of things. I remember reading about how a swastika had a nice meaning before Hitler changed into something else. The best thing is that you are not changing the way you look at your girl’s name. Dont let them win! #sharewithme

  11. ghostwritermummy2014 on June 19, 2014 at 7:54 pm said:

    Your daughter has a truly beautiful name and no matter what these terrorists do, that will never change. You will know that each time you look at her.
    x x

  12. Hi Kiran, my 21 month old daughter is also called Isis …I was in love with the name the moment I heard it just a few years ago – and I too have been upset about this awful connection with the name in the recent press. Her father is coincidentally Muslim, and neither of us had heard of this group before unfortunately. We are seriously thinking of changing her name (perhaps to a middle name) before she goes to school and gets teased. If they don’t dissappear anytime soon :( what to do?? Confused.

  13. It is such a shame that this has happened as it is a beautiful name for a beautiful girl, please do not worry. I’m sure it is not a connection people make when they hear your daughters name. #sharewithme

  14. lauren on August 20, 2014 at 11:49 am said:

    I can totally relate to this post.. My daughter was born in 2013 and she too share the middle name Isis..I fell in love with the name and everything it stands for and it breaks my heart that this terrorist group stands behind a this name do to convenient letters…

  15. When I think of Isis I only think of the goddess. As far as I’m concerned, your daughter and the terrorists are worlds apart. You’re right, it is a beautiful name.

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