Egypt wants to ban parents from giving newborns foreign names like “Mark” and “Lara”

“My name is…”
“My name is…”
Image: AP Photo/Ahmed Ali
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Giving your child a “foreign” name in Egypt could land you in prison.

An Egyptian parliament committee is set to discuss a proposed law seeking to ban parents from giving newborns western names, according to Egypt’s Independent. As a deterrent, the draft law proposes a fine of between $55 and $270 as well as a jail term of up to six months.

Bedier Abdel Aziz, the Egyptian member of parliament pushing the draft law this week, says it’s necessary to prevent a loss of heritage. “Using such Western names and abandoning Arabic ones will lead to an undesired and radical change in our society and culture,” Abdel Aziz claimed. Abdel Aziz also claims foreign names like “Lara” and “Mark” are difficult for Arabs to pronounce.

Egypt will not be the first country to ban certain names for newborns, if successful. In 2014, Saudi Arabia announced a ban on 51 names  for their “foreign” origins, affiliations with royalty or for being blasphemous. The list of banned names included Linda, a feminine name of German origins.

Name laws are also prominent in parts of Scandinavian Europe mainly to prevent parents from giving their babies names that could cause them discomfort or negatively affect them when they grow older. However, the initial reason behind Sweden’s name laws which were passed in 1982, was to prevent non-nobles from bearing noble names.