This story offers a new twist on banned names: in Saudi Arabia, they have banned 50 names for being too foreign, too blasphemous and too politically controversial. For example:
Banned as too foreign are Linda, Elaine, Sandy, Alice, Lauren and Maya.
Banned for political reasons are Malek (which means king), Malika (which means queen), Malak (which means Angel), Amir (which means prince), Binyamin (the first name of Israel’s prime minister) and Abdul Nasser (the name of Egypt’s former ruler).
Banned as too controversial are Abdul and variations of that name (because they may arouse passions from Shiite and Sunni Muslims).
Compare this article with my post about 60 names banned in the Mexican state of Sonora, where a variety of weird and ridiculous names (like Scrotum, Hitler, Virgin and Twitter) were banned to prevent teasing. By contrast most of the names Saudi Arabia banned are motivated by the royal government’s extreme xenophobia (fear of that which is foreign) and the paranoia (pathological fear).
Saudi Arabia is regarded as one of our staunchest allies in the Middle East. However instead of gradually becoming more open and democratic, they seem to be moving in the opposite direction.