Friday, May 27, 2005

The Name Police

I read in The Critic's Blog today that the Iranian embassy in Denmark has posted a list of names it considers "acceptable" for babies born outside of Iran whose parents want to claim their Iranian nationalities/national identity cards.

The Critic couldn't find either his name or his sister's on the list, even though they both have Iranian identity cards. I couldn't resist checking to see if me and my brother had acceptable names.

Well, I was inordinately furious to find out that my name wasn't on the list, though surprisingly my brother's name was included. Both of our names are somewhat rare, though very persian, with etymological roots in pre-Islamic Iran. In fact, more than once other iranians who have met us when we are together, ask if we are zorastrians, and point to our names for thinking so.

Non-Iranians almost always assume that my name is western, but it is not, it has a completely different pronounciation and it has a meaning in Persian. I don't make a fuss about it though, and i answer to both versions. It's just that I am feeling somewhat sensitive today, and the whole thing about the names irked me. I mean, even Raed's name was inlcluded. Ra'ed! Have you ever in your life met an Iranian Ra'ed?

anyway, i suppose that before writing this post i should have checked out whether the embassy's name list is meant as just a resource for iranians living abroad, or whether it is indeed provided so that you know which names they will accept and which they will not.

even if this particular list is a mere reference, i know that the whole naming thing has been a problem inside of Iran. lots of stories about the government refusing to issue birth certificates for certain names, but i don't know how much that holds true anymore. I once heard that some dates were excluded too, so that if your child was born on the anniversary of an officially deemed "sad" day, you had to change the birthday by a day, so as not to affront the universe by marking a happy occasion on a day when you were supposed to mourn. I don't know about this date thing though, I've only heard it from random sources, and not from any first-hand accounts of people I trust.

anyone know the facts about the official policy on names and dates for birth certificates/national id cards? i'm curious to know.