Saudi Arabia denies banning baby names

The Saudi Ministry of Interior has denied releasing any statement banning 50 names deemed blasphemous or unacceptable and said any name can be used as long as it abides by Civil Status laws.

After the story went viral on social media Mohammed Al-Jaser, Saudi Civil Affairs spokesman, said that certain names cannot be registered if they do not adhere to Islamic law. Among these are westernized names, socially unacceptable names or names with blasphemous connotations.

Names such as “Abdul Rasool” or “Abdul Nabi” (slave or worshipper of a prophet or messenger) and names with religious connotations, such as “Malak,” are also forbidden. Other names such as “Humair,” which resembles the Arabic word for donkey, are also deemed socially unacceptable.

Al-Jaser said that names must comply with the rules of the Arabic language and must not include common titles, such as mister or “Haj,” Arabic for a Muslim man who has performed the pilgrimage.

It was widely reported that Saudi Arabia released the list in an effort to clean up what it sees as the blasphemous, foreign-influenced naming of children. Popular Western options like Alice and Linda were alleged to have appeared on the list, as well as Malika (which means “queen”) and Amir (prince).

Names that are not uncommon across the Arab world, such as Malak (angel) and Jibreel (Gabriel), were also said to have been banned for being blasphemous.

The Gulf News reported that “Binyamin” was also banned, apparently because it is the name of the Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The same goes for “Abdul Naser,” the name of the Arab nationalist and Egyptian leader who was at odds with Saudi Arabia. 

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