20 Oct 2014

Islamic State: just a bunch of #daeshbags?

A new hashtag is taking off on Twitter, and for once it is not One Direction related. It is #daeshbags – and it fits into an online movement ridiculing the #IslamicState group.


The pun employs one name used of the Islamic State group, Daesh, combined with the insult, common in the US, “douchebag”.

“Daesh” is a loose acronym of the group’s name in Arabic, but excludes “Islamic”. It is used by those that oppose IS. It has been adopted by France, with Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius saying the Islamic component should be left out. “The Arabs call them daesh”, he said, “and I will call them daesh cutthroats.”

#Daeshbags has been used over 1,100 times on Twitter in the last 30 days, but nearly 1,000 of those mentions have been in the last week.

Its increased usage in the online world coincides with a turn in the tide of fighting in Kobane, near the Turkish border in Syria. At the weekend Kurdish officials reported that YPG (Kurdish People’s Protection Units) had pushed Islamic State out of the town.

The hashtag has been used to mock the Islamic State group’s efforts – with people posting Photoshopped images of Islamic State caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi crying and mice (representing Islamic State) trapped in mousetraps (representing Kobane).

It is the latest in a trend of mocking and parodying the jihadi group – as seen in some parody accounts below.

The parody accounts are a stark contrast to, or could even be seen as a fight against, the Islamic State’s own social media machine, which uses slick video to encourage foreign fighters to join up and fight jihad.

Islamic State also produces a glossy magazine, Dabiq (pictured below left), which has also been lampooned (below right).


When you leave the online world, however, the jokes stop. More than 500 people have died in Kobane – half of the deceased are Islamic State fighters.

The United Nations has catalogued examples of murder, torture, rape, abductions and sexual and physical violence against women and children carried out by the Islamic State group across Iraq and Syria.

On Monday the US airdropped weapons, ammunition and medical supplies to Kurdish fighters in Kobane, and Turkey said it would facilitate the passage of Iraqi Kurds into the Syrian town to help in the fight.

Amateur footage posted online appeared to show Kurds celebrating as they recaptured neighbourhoods in Kobane.


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