Parents face legal challenge in France after naming baby “Jihad”

A family in Toulouse, France who called their baby son Jihad are in legal limbo after the city’s authorities took the case to prosecutors to see if the name was lawful. Until 1993, French parents had to choose a first name for their offspring from an officially approved list, but now they are allowed to pick any name as long as it does not go against the child’s interest.

But while the name might seem like a provocative choice, given its meaning of “holy war,” it literally translates to “effort” or “struggle.” Jihad is a “fundamental concept in Islam,” meaning making “the effort to achieve good,” Aderrahmane Oumachar, co-founder of the Toulouse Centre of Muslim Spirituality, told the The Local of France.

The couple, who come from the Toulouse suburb of Léguevin, tried to name their son ‘Jihad’ when he was born in August but the local town hall immediately alerted the public prosecutor to their controversial choice of name. Given the choice of name and the fact France has been on heightened alert after a series of terror attacks by homegrown jihadists, the prosecutor may well decide to refer the case to the family court.