In Brief

Saudi Arabia bans 50 blasphemous, royal and foreign baby names

Kingdom makes naming of babies much easier after eliminating options such as Alice, Linda and Binyamin

ALICE and Amir are on a list of 50 names that Saudi Arabia has released in an effort to clean up what it sees as the blasphemous, foreign-influenced naming of children. Many of the names that will now be forbidden in the strict Muslim kingdom are popular across the Middle East.

The names on the list published by the interior ministry fall into three categories: foreign names, blasphemous names and names relating to royalty.

Popular Western options like Alice and Linda appear 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), are also banned for being blasphemous, the Sunday Telegraph reports.

Some names fall foul of the multiple interpretations attributed to them. Abdul, for example, means ‘worshipper of’ or ‘slave of’. Some strict Muslims argue that only Allah can be worshipped, so a name such as Abdul Nabi (worshipper of the Prophet) would be blasphemous.

But there seems to be a fourth category of names on the banned list: otherwise inoffensive names that happen to have been given to enemies of Saudi Arabia.

Gulf News points out that Binyamin, which has been banned, is a perfectly good Muslim name. Binyamin is believed in Islam to be the son of the Prophet Jacob. Unfortunately it is also the name of the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu. The same goes for Abdul Naser, more commonly spelt ‘Nasser’ in the West and the name of the Arab nationalist and Egyptian leader who was at odds with Saudi Arabia.

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