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.