How did the Hanafi Siege influence baby names in 1977?

Newspaper clipping about the Hanafi Siege (NY Daily News, Mar. 10, 1977)
News of the Hanafi Siege

On March 9, 1977, a dozen Hanafi Muslim gunmen led by Hamaas Abdul Khaalis invaded the B’nai B’rith building in Washington, D.C., and took hostages.

They ended up storming three buildings in the city that day, taking 149 hostages in total.

About 40 hours later, negotiators (with the help of Muslim ambassadors from Iran, Egypt and Pakistan) were able to convince the gunmen to surrender. Just one person was killed during the siege.

News of the Hanafi Siege gripped the nation for several days, and we can see the effect of this in the U.S. baby name data. In 1977, both Khaalis and Bnai appeared in the data for the first time:

Boys named KhaalisGirls named KhaalisGirls named Bnai

Khaalis was a rare dual-gender debut, while Bnai ended up being a one-hit wonder that never returned to the charts.

Hamaas Abdul Khaalis was the founder of the Hanafi Movement, a breakaway group of the Nation of Islam. His birth name was Ernest Timothy McGee.

The Jewish organization B’nai B’rith, meaning “sons of the covenant,” was founded by German-Jewish immigrants in New York City in the 1840s. The word B’nai is based on the Hebrew word b’né, the plural form of ben, meaning “son.” (The element ben can be seen in Biblical names like Benjamin and Reuben.)

Sources: 40 Years Later: Remembering the Hanafi Siege That Paralyzed DC, The day terrorists took D.C. hostage, About Us – B’nai B’rith International, Hanafi Siege: Gunmen raid D.C. buildings in 1977, killing one and wounding at least 12
Image: © 1977 New York Daily News

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