The Egyptian parliament is considering jail term for parents who give their children western or English names instead of Arabic names.
According to the parliament’s recommendations, parents who give their children names like Pamela, Sam, Lara, etc, face up to six months in prison.
The draft which is being deliberated on the floor of the house was introduced by MP Bedier Abdel Aziz and is aimed at discouraging parents from adopting ‘Western’ names for their children.
According to Egypt Independent, the sponsor of the bill said: “The fine should be between LE1,000- LE5,000($60-$300) and the sentence should be six months at the most.”
He argued that “using such Western names and abandoning Arabic ones will lead to an undesired and radical change in our society and culture. Our sons will no longer be connected to their true identity.”
Speaking on his motivation for the proposed bill, the sponsor, MP Abdel-Aziz explained that Western names such as ‘Lara’, Mark’ or ‘Sam’ are difficult to pronounce for other Arabs.
Massive public outrage has however followed the introduction of the bill to the parliament, with many on social media describing the bill as trivial and useless in the face of the myriad of national issues the lawmakers should be discussing.
But if the new law is passed, Egypt will not be the first country to ban certain names. According to Gulf News, Saudi Arabia, in 2014, banned a list of 50 names including Alice, Linda and Elaine because they “contradicted” local culture or religion.
Independent UK also reports that Denmark’s law on personal names also rejects ‘Pluto’ and ‘Monkey’ while in New Zealand, parents hoping to name new-borns ‘Stallion’, ‘Fish and Chips’ or ‘Satan’ will be disappointed.