Egypt’s foreign ministry gathered foreign correspondents for a briefing Saturday during which it provided a list of suggested alternative words to use instead of “Islamic State” to describe the notorious jihadist group, according to media reports.
Louisa Loveluck, a reporter for Britain’s Telegraph, posted a photo of the memo in which journalists were advised not to use language to describe terrorists that “tarnish the image of Islam as it falsely attaches the horrendous acts of these extremist groups to the Islamic faith.”
Among the unadvisable words: Islamists, Islamic groups, jihadists, sheikhs, emirs, Islamic State, ISIS, ISIL and fundamentalists.
Suggested alternatives offered were: slayers, destroyers, assassins, terrorists, extremists, criminals, savages, slaughterers, murderers, fanatics, executioners and eradicators.
Memo from Egypt's foreign ministry, telling journos how they can & can't describe terrorist attacks. 'ISIS' not ok: pic.twitter.com/ivKitgkRLt— Louisa Loveluck (@leloveluck) July 5, 2015
Meanwhile, the Egyptian government has threatened to impose jail time on journalists who report unapproved terrorist attack death tolls.
The media crackdown came as the Egyptian government drafted new anti-terrorism legislation in the wake of a large wave of Ramadan-timed terrorist attacks against Egyptian police and military targets in the Sinai Peninsula and the assassination of the country’s top prosecutor.
Agence France-Presse cited Egyptian officials Sunday who confirmed Egyptian media reports that one of the draft law’s articles stipulated a two-year minimum sentence for "reporting false information on terrorist attacks that contradicts official statements." Other possible punishments noted were deportation and house arrest.
Egypt’s journalists’ syndicate rejected the emerging directive, calling it unconstitutional.
The Egyptian military has protested media coverage of the simultaneous coordinated attacks in the Sinai last week when media outlets initially reported an inflated death toll for Egyptian soldiers.
Various news agencies at first cited unnamed Egyptian security officials who placed the death toll at 50.
However, the military later said that 21 soldiers and more than 100 militants were killed during the attacks and the clashes that followed.
Justice Minister Ahmed al-Zind said, "The day of the attack in Sinai some sites published 17, then 25, then 40, then 100 dead,” adding that erroneous reports negatively impact the public morale.
"If the army says 10 died, don't report 20,” he added, according to AFP.
An Islamic State group affiliate in Sinai which calls itself the Sinai Province claimed responsibility for last week's attacks.