Isis Books and Gifts objects to sharing a name with terrorist group

Isis Books and Gifts owner Karen Harrison says some social media commentators have urged the store to change its name, while others would rather see them stand firm. 

Ann Hermes
New lofts sit across from Commons Park along Platte Street at the edge of downtown Denver.

When Isis Books and Gifts opened in Denver, Colo. in 1980, the name was associated more with an Egyptian goddess.

But now that those all over the world are familiar with the Islamic State, known as ISIS or ISIL, think of something else when they see the bookstore, and owner Karen Harrison recently told 9News of Denver that some aren’t so fond of the name anymore. 

“We have had people comment on our Facebook page, 'You should change your name,’” she said. 

Meanwhile, bookstore staff posted a petition on the bookstore page that was started by a woman named Isis Martinez asking that the media use ISIL rather than ISIS to refer to the organization and elaborated on the store’s stance on its name.

“Isis is the name of the Egyptian goddess of motherhood, healing, love, fertility and magic,” staff wrote. “We were interviewed and featured on 9news yesterday about whether we would be changing our name! Our answer is ABSOLUTELY NOT! Please sign the petition below to try to get media to stop referring to terrorists by the sacred name of an ancient goddess who is the antithesis of everything these terrorists stand for." 

On the bookstore’s post, one user wrote, “Anyone can take any name out of context, don't allow extremist[s] to redefine the name. Don't waste your time. You should not feel any shame.” Another added, “Thanks for setting this up, calling those people Isis has rubbed me wrong since the beginning!”

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.