This story is so rich. You have to love how Europeans give the state the right to approve a name or not. I remember a few years ago friends in France talked about a hullabaloo about a couple naming their child ‘Megane’ because there was a new model of car called Megane and “you can’t name your child after a car.” Of course, the name Jehad/Gehad is more delicate, and taps a more understandable European skittishness these days, but the principle isn’t any less silly.
Appeal over baby named Jihad
Kate Connolly in Berlin
Thursday March 1, 2007
The German interior ministry is appealing against a decision by the Berlin authorities to allow an Islamist to name his son Jihad, the Arabic word used for holy war.
Reda Seyam fought for 18 months for permission to give his sixth child the name after the registry in the Berlin district of Charlottenburg initially rejected his application, saying the name was inappropriate because of its association with terrorism, and “may endanger the child”.
This week a court overturned the ruling, on the grounds that Jihad was “a recognised male forename in the Arab world and loved by Muslims”.
Mr Seyam, 47, a self-declared Islamist, was shown on television this week presenting his son. Grinning into the camera, Jihad on his knee, he said: “You had barely come into the world and you were in court. Your fight has already begun.”
In the same programme he defended the terror attacks on the United States on September 11 2001, and on Bali in 2002.
Germany has strict rules governing the naming of children. Parents have to choose from a list of court-approved names, to prevent a child from becoming a victim of ridicule or confusion. The names Hitler and Stalin are banned, and in 2002 a Turkish couple living in Germany were denied permission to name their child Osama bin Laden.
Berlin’s interior minister, Erhart Körting, said a court that allowed “a father who has welcomed al-Qaida attacks to name his child in this way has underestimated in an appallingly naive manner the meaning of this name”.
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