Language is crucial in terrorist fight

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Can the language the media use to refer to terrorists affect their behaviour? In a statesman-like response in a national newspaper article on the atrocity in Tunisia, SNP foreign affairs spokesman Alex Salmond suggests that it can (your report, 30 June). There is an old adage that in war truth is the first casualty.

But he makes a valid point that if this is a propaganda war, as well as almost a guerilla war, then the choice of language is crucial. Islamic State thrives on a grisly combination of brutality and publicity.

How it is referred to by broadcasters and journalists may have an effect on its appeal to those who find its interpretation of Islam attractive. It could save lives. Mr Salmond’s proposal deserves at least some scrutiny from those responsible for what goes in print and on the airwaves.

Some critics will look at the experience almost two decades ago of the attempt to ban IRA spokesmen from comments on radio and television.

The words, “because of government restrictions his voice is spoken by an actor”, became hackneyed and subject to ridicule after some years. Nevertheless, the feelings of the friends and relatives of those who perished on the beach in Sousse deserve to be taken into account.

If the use of the term “Da’esh” rather than “Islamic State” helps in some way to divert young minds from its perversions, then this is something that must be seriously looked at.

This is now a war that needs to be tackled on the intelligence, military and propaganda fronts. Mr Salmond’s thoughts on this deserve respect from even his fiercest critics.

Bob Taylor

Shiel Court


President Francois Hollande declared 7 January this year as a national day of mourning for the ten innocent French people who were murdered at the Charlie Hebdo office. World leaders gathered in Paris on the Sunday to show solidarity with M Hollande and the French people.

Prime Minister David Cameron declared a one-minute’s silence to be observed on Friday, 3 July for the 30 or so innocent British people who were murdered in Tunisia.

More than that would presumably be inconvenient for Wimbledon or other events of greater importance than British lives. How does this arrogant, heartless man expect serious EU leaders, or anyone else for that matter, to take him seriously?

Bill Drysdale MBE CA

Newhaven Harbour