Egyptian lawmakers are deliberating on the issue of criminalizing the use of western names for Egyptian children.
According to the proposal, any parent found guilty of the ‘crime’ could be made to face a jail term or pay a fine.
Westernization is a significant problem that cuts across the whole of Africa. Some native languages are dwindling to a worrisome degree.
Egyptian Lawmakers fear that abandoning their original Arabic names will lead to an “undesired and radical change” and as such should be addressed drastically.
The Egyptian Parliament’s Complaints and Suggestions Committee reportedly met within the week to discuss the draft law.
MP Bedier Abdel Aziz is the brain behind the proposal. He suggests that the use of foreign names for newly born babies in Egypt to be prohibited.
“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”
He also claimed that non-Arabic names are difficult for Egyptians to pronounce.
As a form of sanction for breaking the proposed bill, deviants will be made to pay a fine within the range of $80 and $400 or a maximum jail sentence of 6 months.
“The fine should be between LE1,000- LE5,000 and the sentence should be six months at the most,”
Egyptian Christians have raised their concerns over the matter. This is because Christians traditionally choose biblical names for their children.
As much as the MP has a point in terms of preserving an aspect of the Egyptian culture, implementing such a law will send a discriminatory message to Christians.
Recall that the Coptic Christians witnessed targeted attacks during the Easter season. Moreover, they blamed the government for incessantly turning a blind eye to the safety of Christians, who take up a small number of the Egyptian population.
It appears Egypt is not the only country with baby-name related laws. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Sweden, New Zealand and other Western countries have banned certain baby names in their respective countries
3 years ago, Saudi Arabia banned 51 baby names with foreign backgrounds/religion in the country. Sweden has forbidden names like “Ikea” for their citizens.
Contrary to Egypt’s baby name ban, a 2015 London report says that Muhammad was the most popular baby names in the country for 4 years in a row.
Egypt’s baby name ban will intensify the religious intolerance that Christians have been complaining about.
However, advocates of the policy see a cultural identity gain if foreign names are expunged from the country.
The baby name ban issue sparked debates over the social media. Many have blasted the proposition saying that it is an infringement of an individual’s freedom of choice and religion.
Critics have also suggested that the supposed $250 fine is more than the average Egyptian citizen’s month’s salary on the minimum wage.