Kafr al-Hanadwa


A baby named Jehad by Mango Girl
March 1, 2007, 9:37 am
Filed under: Better believe it, Firangs

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

Guardian

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”.


14 Comments so far
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Dear MG,

After the first few lines I thought “I bet this story is from Germany” … I know of people – immigrants and locals alike – who had to bring “evidence” that the names they wanted to give their children actually exist. It’s not true that parents have to chose from a list of court-approved names. But it is true that in Germany you can’t just give your baby any name. It has to be a, hmmm … what would be the term, “human name”. Can’t name your kid “chair”, for instance. Thus, if the official at the public registry has never heard of the name before or thinks something’s fishy then the parents will have to prove that the name is legit.

And in any case, the state has the right to deny the name if it thinks that it could be hate-speech, incitement to genocide, socially inappropriate, or bad for the child’s future.

Reda Seyam is quite well-known. He’s an Egyptian immigrant who’s become an Islamist with “the usual” ties. After stints in Bosnia during the 90s and KSA he’s now back in Germany. He can’t find work (he’s a camera man) and thus lives off welfare. The only reason why he hasn’t been kicked out of the country yet is that he’s a citizen. Most people who know about him wonder what he’s still doing here – the usual “If he hates the West & thinks KSA is the perfect Islamic state, then why doesn’t he move there?”

–MSK

http://www.aqoul.com

PS: I think the court has a point in denying the name “Jihad”. With that name, going to school would be hell.

Comment by MSK

Well if “socially inappropriate, or bad for the child’s future” or “going to school would be hell” is the standard, then any Muslim name should be disallowed, eh? Of all the silly things for the state to get involved in, seriously.

Thanks for the details on the Islamist – I guess it makes more sense now that the Germans would be nervous about him. But still, do they think they’re going to fight characters like that by controlling the names they give their children?

Comment by Mango Girl

Dear MG,

The fundamental axiom of German public policy is “anything that’s not allowed is forbidden”.

The state gets involved in EVERYthing.

The decision to not allow Reda Seyam to register his son under the name “Jihad” isn’t aimed at controlling the father, but to prevent the dissemination of hate-speech/incitment to violence. It’s the same reason that you cannot name your child Hitler or Stalin or Muslimkiller or Crusade. It’s equal-opportunity protection/prevention.

As for Muslim names … it’s not so much generic ones like Ahmed or Muhammad but the “special” ones. Even if Seyam were to send his kid to a school where over 90% of the pupils are immigrant kids (most of whom are Muslim) that boy would get taunted to no end – by his Muslim classmates. AND the boy would have problems whenever he’d have to state his name – at the airport, when applying for anything (incl. a job later on). So, in a sense, apart from the question of political incitement the registry official took the real, existing social prejudices into account, just as s/he would’ve if someone were to want to name their baby “idiot” or “donkey”.

–MSK

http://www.aqoul.com

Comment by MSK

I’m sure they mean well but let’s not even get started on all the potential ramifications of trying to protect kids from taunts. I’m envisioning a Protective State Superhero swooping down on classrooms and waving magic wands to turn badly-dressed kids that the others are making fun of into Cinderellas.

Comment by Mango Girl

Dear MG,

no need to envision anything. What do you think is the main reason for school uniforms? ;)

Social engineering is oh so very tempting …

–MSK

http://www.aqoul.com

Comment by MSK

[…] Utterly ridiculous: German authorities are trying to get courts to back them in preventing a baby being named “Jihad” — even though it is a completely common name in the Arab world. The most famous Arab columnist (for al-Hayat) is called Jihad al-Khazen. He is broadly speaking a secularist, albeit of the loyal to Saudi interest variety (he has a rich history of being close to virtually every prominent political figure in the region over his long career.) Of course the baby’s father appears to be something of an Islamist, but so what? See Kafr al-Hanadwa’s post for the details. […]

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i have to agree with the german state on this one. i know it’s ridiculous that the state should get involved, but i guess that sometimes it might be necessary. and let’s not generalize: it’s not the same naming your child megane and jihad: the first is only ridiculous, the second is also dangerous. try to think of the context. jihad might be a common name in the arab world, but naming a child like that in germany is the same as naming him/her george bush in iraq or afghanistan.

Comment by vkotor

For whom is it dangerous if you name your baby Jehad? For the child? I don’t see how it would be very different from having an Islamist for a father and a Muslim name anyway, and there’s no end to what the state *could* do to “protect” a child – would they deny those who are poor or of very low intelligence the right to keep their children, on the grounds that it would not be in the child’s best interest to grow up in such a home? If someone chooses to give their child a silly name like George Bush or whatever, that’s their decision, and they’ll have to deal with the consequences – it doesn’t harm anyone except the child and his or her guardians/parents. I find this sort of extreme paternalism very misguided and quite honestly all they are doing is giving the idiot father some publicity.

Comment by Mango Girl

Dear MG,

what can I say? Social engineering & a very paternalistic state attitude shared by the vast majority of the inhabitants.

Germany isn’t alone in that.

As for “deny those who are poor or of very low intelligence the right to keep their children, on the grounds that it would not be in the child’s best interest to grow up in such a home” – of course, that’s what Social Services do, in Germany and elsewhere. If there is a perception that parents cannot care for their children, it will be investigated &, if validated, the children will be taken away. Poor parents get child support money (as Reda Seyam does, since he’s unemployed). Parents of “low intelligence” – good question. I’m no expert, but I seem to remember that at least the gynecologists/OB-GYNs involved will, again, bring in Social Services to ascertain if the child will have a chance to grow up “well”.

Again – that’s pretty standard throughout Europe & North America.

When Reda Seyam took German citizenship, he signed onto that system. If he doesn’t like it, he can sue (as he is doing) or leave.

–MSK

http://www.aqoul.com

Comment by MSK

MSK, if what you say about Germany is indeed true, it sounds like a rather scary place, I’m afraid. Those sorts of policies died out in the U.S. by the 1950s, IIRC, after some flirtation with eugenicist-inspired immigration policies based on racial origin and forced sterilisations of those considered to be “retarded.”

Comment by Mango Girl

Dear MG,

as I said – I’m no expert. And I know for a fact that “retarted” (what IS the correct term?) people in Germany do have children. As damn well they should.

But there is counseling. And the well-being of the child is taken into account. See, if a fetus has Down Syndrome, the parents are informed & counseled but in the end it’s their decision what to do. With “retarded” people – the question is who is the legal person. Is there a “guardian”? A “decision-maker”? Can the parents adequately care for the child? Like, save it from those things that babies do & have to be protected from? Who will assist the parents in bringing up the baby/child? All those questions have to be taken into account.

And a similar logic underlies the name issue: Children shouldn’t have to suffer because of the stupid decisions their parents made.

But if parents cannot adequately care for their children they will be taken away in the U.S. as well.

–MSK

http://www.aqoul.com

Comment by MSK

“And a similar logic underlies the name issue: Children shouldn’t have to suffer because of the stupid decisions their parents made.”

I don’t think a genuine medical reason why a parent might not be able to care for a child is at all comparable to a parent making some “stupid decision” that will affect the child later. Parents do stupid and harmful things all the time (if they didn’t, psychologists and psychiatrists would be out of business). Is the state going to take under its wing every child born to a parent who wasn’t upper middle class, enlightened, a teetotaller and with a lily-white sort of name?

There are strict standards in the US for when children are considered to be at risk from their parents enough that the state needs to intervene (usually entailing physical harm) and that’s as it should be.

Comment by Mango Girl

Dear MG,

it’s the same everywhere else – strict standards. I don’t know what the “name law” is in, say, France.

The U.S. is particularly permissive in regard to names. Other countries aren’t. Europe is particular in that the state sees itself as the “protector of the weak” – incl. children.

I’m not sure if the state should interfere in the name business.

I don’t know enough details to continue this topic. I find Germany’s name law to be one of the least problematic issues of that particular polity. Did you know that EVERYTHING on T.V. is dubbed into German???

–MSK

http://www.aqoul.com

Comment by MSK

[…] that the government of Morocco is determined to compete in the small-minded bigotry and idiocy stakes. Numidia Tin-Ass is an Amazigh girl of 4 months whose father is still fighting to record her first […]

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