Monday, March 17, 2014

Bashar was not on the list

It was one of those irresistible stories: Saudi Arabia bans 50 names! Obscure in origin, "viral" on social media, and made true by repetition. Here it is arriving at the Washington Post Worldviews blog. However as of Sunday, it's looking flimsy. The Civil Status Department of the Saudi Ministry of Interior has said it never issued any such list. Instead it says that it has a set of long-standing rules that baby names can't be titles, religiously aggrandizing, compound names, non-Arabic names, or names that are just plain silly ("puppy"). Hospitals appear to have been working off a list in terms of advising parents on names, and that found its way to the media, and the rest is standard made-you-look online media at work.

Incidentally, lots of people died in Syria this weekend, but their names were probably not on any banned list in Damascus. Move along folks, nothing to see here.