- The Washington Times - Monday, March 17, 2014

Saudi Arabia religious authorities have banned 50 names for babies born in the kingdom, calling them blasphemous, inappropriate and a contradiction to the culture.

Making the list: Benjamin, the first name of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, and anything that reeks of royalty, like Amir, Malek and Malika, which translate into Arabic as — in order — prince, king and queen. Also banned were names popular in the West, like Linda, Alice, Sandy and Lauren. On the list, too: Malask, which translates to angel, Taline, Randa, Nardeen, Nabi, Abdul Naser, Abdul Musieh, Iman, Bassel, Yara, Naris and Barrah, The Blaze reported.

The interior ministry “justified the ban by saying that the names either contradicted the culture or religion of the kingdom, or were foreign, or inappropriate,” Gulf News reported, citing Saudi newspapers. “The names fit into at least three categories — those that offend perceived religious sensibilities, those that are affiliated to royalty and those that are of non-Arabic or non-Islamic origin.”

Some, like Benjamin, didn’t meet any of those standards.

“A number of other names appear that do not necessarily fit into any category, and it is therefore unclear as to why they would have been banned,” the Gulf News report said, The Blaze cited.

Other countries ban parents from naming their babies certain names, too — though not perhaps so frequently. Germany doesn’t let parents name their children Hitler, and recently a judge in Tennessee ordered parents of a baby they named Messiah to change it to Martin, The Blaze said.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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