Parents in Egypt who give their newborn children “Western”names such as “Diana”, “Peter” or “Mark” could soon face fines and/or imprisonment under new legislation being considered in the country.
Lawmakers have heard that abandoning traditional Arabic names will lead to an “undesired and radical change” in the Muslim majority nation and should therefore be expunged from society.
The Egpytian Parliament’s Complaints and Suggestions Committee met on Tuesday to discuss the draft law. It was introduced by MP Bedier Abdel Aziz, and seeks to prohibit the usage of “foreign” names for newly born babies in Egypt, according to the Egypt Independent.
“Using such Western names and abandoning Arabic ones will lead to an undesired and radical change in our society and culture,” Aziz was reported as saying.
He added: “Our sons will no longer be connected to their true identity” before claiming that non-Arabic names are difficult for Egyptians to pronounce.
Aziz said the punishment for disobeying the law should be a fine of between about $80 and $400 or a maximum jail sentence of six months. It is most likely to affect the dwindling number of Christians in the country who are more likely to choose traditional, biblical names for their offspring.
The Egyptian legislation is not entirely unique. According to Newsweek, other countries that have laws related to baby names include Saudi Arabia, which has banned 51 names, plus New Zealand and at least five countries in western Europe. Swedes, for example, are not allowed to name their children Ikea.
In 2014, Saudi Arabia banned 51 names that had foreign origins, religious connotations or were not in line with “social traditions”. Among the 51: Emir, Linda, Laureen and Abdul Nasser (the name of an Egyptian president, Gamal Abdel Nasser, who was hostile toward Saudi Arabia).
In contrast, as Breitbart London reported, Muhammad was the most popular name given to newborn boys in London in 2015, marking the fourth year in a row that the name has topped the chart in the city. It also reclaimed the top spot in the West Midlands, second place in Yorkshire and the Humber, and joint third in the North West.
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