While the Senate Intelligence Committee is busy Tuesday hearing testimony from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a committee of the Egyptian parliament is discussing something a little lighter: a proposed ban on “western” baby names. The Independent reports that MP Bedier Abdel Aziz was set to propose a draft law to the Complaints and Suggestions Committee that would prohibit the use of “foreign” names for babies born in Egypt. Violators could face fines up to $270 or up to six months in prison. “Using such Western names and abandoning Arabic ones will lead to an undesired and radical change in our society and culture,” Abdel Aziz told the Egypt Independent. He also claimed foreign names, like Lara and Mark, are difficult for Arabs to pronounce.
The draft law has inspired backlash on social media, with many condemning the proposal as a “waste of time” and an attack on “personal freedom.” According to Newsweek, some commentators have also argued that the law would disproportionately affect the minority Christian population in the country. If it is passed, Egypt would join a few other countries that have laws related to baby names, including Saudi Arabia, which has banned 51 names, plus New Zealand and at least five countries in western Europe. Swedes, for example, are not allowed to name their children Ikea. As for Egypt, the name ban is only one strange piece of legislation up for debate at today’s Parliamentary session. Others would force Facebook users to get licenses and fine couples who break off wedding engagements without good reason. (Read more Egypt stories.)