November 19, 2015

What happens when you confuse a bookstore for a terrorist organization



Photo courtesy of Denver7 News.

Last weekend an independent bookstore in Denver’s Englewood neighborhood was vandalized because of a mistaken association with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, aka ISIS. The bookstore’s name? As a Shelf Awareness report notes, it’s Isis Books and Gifts.

The store, which specializes in spirituality and world religion, was named after the Egyptian goddess and has been in business for 35 years. As reported by Kent Erdahl of Denver7 News, it wasn’t the first time the bookstore has been the target of threats and harassment:

Karen Charboneau-Harrison [owner of Isis Books and Gifts] said it is the fourth time the business has been vandalized in just the past few months. She said they had to replace their front door after someone shattered the glass. Someone also threw pink paint across the front of the store, and the same sign has already been broken once before.

“It does get a bit tiresome,” Charboneau-Harrison said. “Plus expensive.”

While it might seem that a simple change in name would be the best remedy, Charboneau-Harrison is refusing to do so. Instead, she hopes that people will change the way they refer to the terrorist organization, like President Obama, who usually uses the name ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), or those calling for use of the term “Daesh,” an acronym of the group’s full name in Arabic.

Isis Books and Gifts posted the following response on their Facebook page:

Dear friends…We humbly request that you send protective energy to us, as this is just one of the many incidents of harassment we have experienced.

The name Isis is that of the Egyptian Goddess of women, marriage, magick, healing and more. However, with our media and politicians constantly using the word to name those in the Middle East who are the source of such horror, some people seem to get confused. Please help us to educate the media and your family and friends to call the terrorists by a more correct name — Daesh — not Islamic State, not ISIS, not ISIL. They hate the term “Daesh” and have threatened to cut out the tongue of anyone who uses it. Since Friday’s attacks on Paris, the French government has switched to using Daesh, and President Obama has also used it.

Do not legitimize them and their aspirations by calling them a STATE, as in the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, or the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, or just Islamic State. These names only support their delusions of power.

If you’d like to help Isis Books and Gifts cover the cost of the damage caused by vandalism, you can make a purchase from their online store. Perhaps a new wand? Or a technical guide to invisibility?



Simon Reichley is assistant to the publishers and office manager at Melville House.