The essay begins with an event that took place in France a few years ago and featured two Moroccan parents who were called to the Family Court of Toulouse for having named their daughter ‘Jihad.’ According to the French prosecutor, the name chosen by the couple was clearly prejudicial to the psychosociological development of the unborn child because of the evocativeness of the term ‘jihad’ and its reference to the ‘holy war’ perpetrated by Salafist terrorist organizations, responsible for atrocious crimes on European soil. The episode is the starting point for a reflection on personal names as identifying and distinctive signs of the person, and elements from which personal identity is built; an important right descends from this reflection, the right of each person to be given a name by law at the time of birth. The essay will analyze the regulatory framework of this right, the exercise of which, after all, belongs to a third party and not to the ‘owner’ of the name who, on the contrary, ends up suffering its effects. The essay argues that the selection of a personal name is not a completely free choice because there is no autonomous right in the legal system to choose a name, but rather only the right of each individual to be given a name at the time of birth. From this emerge a series of normative limits to onomastic imposition, limits that will be analyzed in the essay and that will highlight the nonsecular and culturally partisan nature of the legislation on onomastic imposition, still heavily influenced by Christian/Catholic monoculture and, consequently, unable to give legitimacy and legitimization to other cultures. If we are to engage a secular reading of the norms regarding naming, it is perhaps necessary to investigate the meaning and significance that the act of naming assumes within our and other cultures with a view to finally giving recognition to the personal names Others choose for themselves.
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