What's in a name? 9 examples where it's bad news, if it's 'Isis'

American engineer Isis Anchalee claimed that Facebook had banned her account because of her name.
American engineer Isis Anchalee claimed that Facebook had banned her account because of her name.PHOTO: @ISISANCHALEE/TWITTER
A brick shattered the outdoor sign of Denver bookstore Isis Books & Gifts.
A brick shattered the outdoor sign of Denver bookstore Isis Books & Gifts. PHOTO: ISIS BOOKS & GIFTS/FACEBOOK

The Islamic State of Iraq & Syria (ISIS) has dominated global headlines over the past few weeks, after the terrorist organisation claimed responsibility for a string of deadly assaults and bombings - including the Nov 13 Paris attacks.

If your name or company name contains the word "Isis", chances are high that you could be a target for unwarranted prejudice.

Isis is a popular choice for a name among women, as it is also the name of the Egyptian goddess of health, marriage and wisdom.

The Egyptian goddess Isis, depicted with outstretched wings in a wall painting. PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Here are some recent examples where the name is bad news:

1. Isis Books & Gifts

The interior of Isis Books & Gifts. PHOTO: FACEBOOK

The Denver-based spiritual bookstore has been targeted by vandals five times in the last few months.

Someone threw a brick that shattered the store's outdoor sign just last weekend.

The 35-year-old store's co-owner Karen Charboneau-Harrison has reportedly said they have no plans to change its name.

The owners are also trying to persuade the public not to refer to the terrorist group as ISIS. Instead, they say the extremists should be called by their Arabic acronym, Daesh.

2. American Isis Anchalee


The engineer claimed on Twitter on Tuesday (Nov 17) that her personal Facebook account was disabled because of her name.

"Facebook thinks I'm a terrorist. Apparently sending them a screenshot of my passport is not good enough for them to reopen my account," she wrote in one tweet.

The social media platform later restored her account and clarified that the incident was not connected to Ms Anchalee's name. Instead, an error was made as part of a "fake account reporting process".

3. Other women and girls named Isis

A screenshot of the petition site. PHOTO: THEPETITIONSITE.COM

It appears that the Isises in the world have had it with the stigma associated with the name. An online petition has been started to urge the media not to use the acronym.

The petition has garnered more than 57,000 signatures so far.

Shani Allman from Florida wrote on the petition: "I named my daughter Isis because it's strong and meaningful. To have it degraded and have her jeopardised by the media's insensitivity is completely disturbing."

Another woman from Britain said her seven-year-old daughter had to be put to bed crying as people were being horrible to her about her name.

4. Isis Pharmaceuticals

ISIS Pharmaceuticals' logo. 

While the California company said last year it did not intend to change the name of a brand it had built over 25 years, it now has a change of heart.

"Even though people know we're not associated with the terrorist group, the name itself has so many negative connotations," D. Wade Walke, the company's vice president for corporate communications and investor relations, told CNN.

"It's obviously not getting better over time."

The decision to switch names has not been finalised yet, and no new names have been mooted.

5. Isis Collections Inc

Mr Phillip Shin, CEO of the New Jersey firm which makes weaves, wigs and hair pieces, said late last year that he had received feedback from stores claiming that customers would put the company's products back on the shelf after noticing the Isis label.

The firm has also been the butt of jokes at trade shows abroad, with some saying that Mr Shin's business was tied to terrorists.

"It's so stressful. I've lost all the benefit of the brand image," he added.

6. Isis Wallet

The technology start-up changed its name to Softcard last September so as to distance itself from the militant group.

As with many similar cases, its original name had been picked to reflect the Egyptian goddess.

The firm closed down on March 31 this year.

7. Isis Bridal and Formal

The modest bridal shop's owner, Aeran Brent, is used to customers enquiring about the California store's name and snapping photos of the sign outside.

Ms Brent reportedly said last October that she was tired of the unwanted attention and was thinking of changing the shop's name.

8. Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS)

Last September, the non-profit institution released a media statement that called on the media and foreign analysts to cease referring to the terrorists as ISIS.

The institution said it had been using the acronym since 1993 and rejected the notion that changing its name was the solution to the problem.

9. TV series Archer

The logo of the International Secret Intelligence Service. PHOTO: ARCHER.WIKIA.COM

The plot for the ongoing adult animated television series had revolved around master spy Sterling Archer, who works for the International Secret Intelligence Service (ISIS).

But the show, which first premiered in 2009, announced last September it was dropping the name ISIS, starting with its season six premiere. Everyone in the show now works for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Sources: CNN, The Guardian, The New York Times, New York Post, The Verge, isis-online.org