China Bans Muslim Baby Names Among Uyghurs

Authorities in China’s Hotan prefecture (which is part of the far west Xinjiang Autonomous Region) have recently banned 22 specific Muslim baby names in “an apparent bid to discourage extremism among the region’s Uyghur residents.”

In fact, Beijing has long been restricting the rights of the mostly-Muslim, Turkic-speaking Uyghurs, which make up the largest ethnic group in Xinjiang (45% of the population).

And the name-ban doesn’t just apply to babies. It also applies to young children who already have these names. Uyghurs in the region have told reporters that “authorities were forbidding children whose parents did not change their names from attending kindergarten and elementary school.”

Here are the 22 banned names (15 male, 7 female):

Male names Female names
Abdul’aziz
Arafat
Asadulla
Bin Laden
Guldulla
Hussein
Mujahid
Mujahidulla
Nesrulla
Pakhirdin
Saddam
Seyfiddin
Seyfulla
Shemshiddin
Zikrulla
Aishe
Amanet
Fatima
Khadicha
Mukhlise
Munise
Muslime

According to Ilshat Hesen, vice president of the Uyghur American Association in Washington, D.C., the name ban is a “violation of human rights, and an example of Chinese authorities’ extreme assimilation policy for Muslim Uyghurs.”

Sources: Chinese Authorities Ban Muslim Names Among Uyghurs in Hoten (found via Clare’s Name News), Xinjiang territory Profile – Overview – BBC

[Related: Morocco Bans Berber (Amazigh) Baby Names]


2 thoughts on “China Bans Muslim Baby Names Among Uyghurs

  1. What a strange list. I’m not all that familiar with Muslim names, but I recognize several that are associated with notorious figures (Saddam, Arafat, Bin Laden, Hussein). Are the rest also names of well-known people? I wondered if by banning names that would “encourage extremism,” they meant banning the names of certain extremists.

    As for the girl’s names, aren’t Aishe, Fatima and Khadicha all relatives or wives of Mohammad? But Mohammad itself is not on the list in any form.

  2. I don’t recognize all of the names on the male side, but I bet you’re right — all/most probably belong to known extremists.

    I wonder if they didn’t bother to add Mohammad just because it’s such a common name among Muslims. Maybe they figured there’d be too much of a backlash.

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