Belgium: Minister speaks with ambassador about naming issue

Flemish minister of integration Marino Keulen invited the Moroccan ambassador for a meeting about the list of Arabic names that the Moroccan authorities are handing out through Flemish municipalities. Belgian of Moroccan origin who choose a name not on the list cannot obtain Moroccan citizenship. Minister Keulen will stress the importance of free choice in naming.

Last week it was made public that there exists a list of traditional Moroccan names which is a criteria for acquiring citizenship. If a kid of Moroccan parents does not have an Arabic sounding name, the he can be denied Moroccan nationality according to Moroccan law. "More than a step too far" and "a hindrance to integration" thinks Vlaams Belang leader Filip Dewinter.

Minister Keulen said this is a federal matter, but at the same time stressed the importance of free choice in naming. "I can only outline for the ambassador the conflict between freedom in choosing names and possible citizenship," according to Keulen. To solve the problem - "We must show the Moroccan authorities that we won't budge from freedom of naming."

Dewinter wants to consider doing the opposite, namely couple the acquisition of Belgian citizenship with an obligation to choose a Flemish or French name.

Keulen calls Dewinter's suggestion "incorrect and grotesque", saying that we must guarantee freedom of naming.

Source: HLN (Dutch)

See also: Belgium: Moroccan consulate rejects non-Arab names

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