Right-wing French candidate Zemmour praises old Moroccan ban on foreign names

Right-wing French candidate Zemmour praises old Moroccan ban on foreign names
Far-right French presidential candidate Eric Zemmour, who wants to ban Muslim names in France, has hailed an obsolete Moroccan prohibition of foreign names as "an excellent idea".
2 min read
11 February, 2022
Zemmour said he had changed his Moroccan birth name to Eric for "the love of France" [Getty]

Right-wing French presidential candidate Eric Zemmour on Thursday applauded a now obsolete Moroccan law that only allowed first names “with a Moroccan character” for newborns. 

Zemmour's seal of approval for the measure came as a reply to a tweet posted on Wednesday by Mohamed Louizi, a Moroccan essayist living in France.

Louizi highlighted the 2002 law governing Moroccan civil status, which orders parents to choose first names with "Moroccan character" for their children.

The law "protects Moroccan national identity," Louizi claimed.

Responding to Louizi’s tweet, Zemmour hailed the Moroccan law as “an excellent idea”.

"Long live Morocco and Moroccans!", he said.

Zemmour told French radio station RMC last year that he is of Moroccan origin, and that he changed his Moroccan birth name to Eric "for the love of France". He refused to reveal his birth name.

In September last year, before announcing that he would run for president, Zemmour called for a ban on non-French first names like Mohammed, saying that foreign first names threaten French identity.

Zemmour's comments on immigration, Islam and minorities have landed him in legal trouble on numerous occasions. In February 2019, a French court found Zemmour guilty of "inciting racial hatred," and ordered him to pay thousands of euros in fines. 

According to the latest polls, more than 14% of French citizens said they would vote for Zemmour in the presidential elections set for April.

Morocco adopted the ban on non-Moroccan names  in 2002, providing parents and guardians will selected names to choose from.

The lists failed to include names in Tamazight, the language of the indigenous Amazigh people, even though they make up about a fifth of Morocco's population.

The Amazigh community fought against the discriminatory ban for years until Morocco authorised Amazigh first names in 2013, two years after recognizing Tamazight as an official language.

In 2021, the term "Moroccan character" was removed and replaced with the simple clarification that the first name "must not undermine morality or public order.”