"Jihad" can mean a personal and non-violent struggle against sin for Muslims, rather than a holy war. But prosecutors can challenge names if they are seen as damaging to the child

The Toulouse boy called
The Toulouse boy called "Jihad" was born in August. AFP (AFP)

French judges are set to rule on whether a family in southern France can call their child "Jihad", a legal source told AFP on Monday.

The mayor's office in the city of Toulouse referred the parents to prosecutors after they registered the child in August, which could lead to a family judge ordering them to change the child's name.

"The process is underway," the legal source said.

In previous cases, other boys have been allowed to keep that name in France.

"Jihad" in Arabic means "effort" or "struggle", not specifically "holy war."

French families are now free to choose first names – up until 1993 they had to pick from an approved list – but local authorities can still refer parents to prosecutors if their choices are seen as damaging to the child.

In November last year, the mayor's office in the Riviera city of Nice referred a family to the authorities after they gave their son the same name as Mohamed Merah, the gunman who killed seven people in 2012.

The parents later decided to give the child another name.

Long history of knocking back names they do not approve of

A French couple back in May was told to find another name for their baby after a court ruled they could not use the name because it contains a tilde, or a “ñ”.

The couple from Brittany had picked a traditional name from the Breton language - Fañch.

The decision displeased a court in the Breton port town of Quimper.

Jean-Christophe Bernard and his wife were then told they would have to find a new name for their baby.

In 2015,  a couple in the French town of Valenciennes decided to name their child Nutella, the registrar informed the local prosecutor, who took the case to court.

The court ruled that name would make her a laughing stock and was against the girl’s interests and ordered the child be called Ella instead.

A few months earlier in 2015, the same court made similar arguments before overturning the decision of another couple to name their child Fraise (Strawberry).

Source: AFP