China has banned the usage of a few Islamic names in the Xinjiang province. This is a Muslim majority province and such an action is supposed to impact children who would be named Imam, Hajj, Islam, Quran, Saddam, Medina etc. These names are supposedly heavily loaded with religious extremism and must not be considered by families for their children if they are to get hukou (household registration) and other state services.
This diktat has been rolled out after new rules were introduced restricting the size of beards and usage of burqas in public places in Xinjiang province. Apparently there is a consistent rift going on between separatists and the Chinese Government in the Xinjyang Uyghur region. This is government’s attempt to quell Islamic radicalization in the area.
This is not the first time it is happening and China is not the first country to bring in such regulations. Portuguese have banned Tom, Saudi Arabia has banned around 50 names on the premise of them being western names (blasphemous or non-Islamic) or having royal connotations. While this list should raise alarms of similar fervor as Chinese sermon has raised, Mexico’s list of banned names is too amusing to register any protest. So if you are in Mexico and you being a Batman or a James Bond fan are mulling over such names as your favorite Hero’s for your baby, calm down. That’s not going to happen. Burger King, Christmas Day, Facebook, Harry Potter, Hermione, Hitler, Rambo, Twitter, Yahoo are also banned. Certainly the list is not exhaustive because if one goes only by the list, you may still pick Instagram for your baby’s name. In New Zealand, you must get your baby’s name vetted by the government and you can’t name you baby as Anal, Lucifer, Christ, or Messiah. If this was not enough, somebody got too experimental and named their baby as Circumcision in Mexico. Rightfully, the name was banned. Denmark has released a list of 7000 names and you must take explicit permission from the government to choose a name outside this list. Portugal has considered Nirvana unfit for a baby name. A step further in Morocco, Sarah with an ‘H’ is banned because it is a Hebrew spelling, Sara without ‘H’ is allowed.
Is Adolf Hitler banned? In 2009, a three year old Adolf Hitler Campbell was refused a cake with his name on it in America. A huge controversy followed. By book or beyond the book, Adolf Hitler remains a universally hated name as does Osama Bin Laden (maybe not, a Turkish couple is said to have named their child Osama Bin Laden within a few months of 9/11. The coupled lived in Germany).
As I was reading news of China’s regulations on Islamic names, I came across an apt comment on the story. The reader suggested that China only loves Masood Azhar. Going by the recent stands that China has taken against India on the issue of cross-border terrorism at the United Nations, perhaps the Muslims of China would be well advised to rename their kids as Masood Azhar. He seems to garner special affection from the Chinese dispensation. By the way, do you think our Indian communists will rise up and register their protests against this oppression of the minorities in China? Oh, they certainly will, my mind and its unreasonable fears! Sorry.