MAINZ, Germany - A father has been forbidden from naming his newborn son "WikiLeaks," amid concerns that the moniker could endanger the baby's welfare.
Hajar Hamalaw, a journalist and photographer who fled Iraq in 2000 and now lives in the German city of Passau, said the campaigning organization founded by Julian Assange has had a deep impact on him.
"This is not only a simple name for me -- it has a big meaning. WikiLeaks has changed the world," 28-year old Hamalaw told NBC News.
"Hundreds of people ... were allowed to use the name of Barack Obama's dog for their child, but I can't use WikiLeaks?"
"For my family, the name is a synonym with transparent truth," he added. “My two-year-old daughter is called 'Diya,' which translates to 'Light of Truth.'"
The German official at Passau's registry office in the conservative state of Bavaria initially did not know what WikiLeaks meant, according to Hamalaw.
"She thought I was presenting the name of a television show," Hamalaw said. "We were very disappointed after the rejection. Hundreds of people across the globe were allowed to use the name of Barack Obama's dog for their child, but I can't use WikiLeaks?"
Courtesy Hajar Hamalaw
Hajar Hamalaw's son is still called "WikiLeaks" by friends and family. He is pictured wearing an outfit featuring WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Germany does not have a list of approved names that parents can choose from for their children, but courts can rule whether a name risks endangering a child's welfare.
Parents are prevented from naming their kids after towns or brands. In recent years, first names like Stompie, McDonald, Woodstock, Grammophon and Peppermint have been banned.
In 2009, a court decision sparked outrage after officials allowed an Islamist extremist in Berlin to give his son the name "Djehad," a variation of the Arabic term "Jihad," which also means "holy war."
Karin Schmeller, a spokeswoman for Passau’s Town Hall, defended last month's "WikiLeaks" decision.
“In an initial information session, we told the family that we would have to reject the name based on similar assessments in recent court rulings,” she said.
Munich's Merkur newspaper was quick to compare the regulations in Germany with those elsewhere.
"In Hollywood unusual names are not uncommon. Anthony Kiedis from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers called his son 'Everly Bear,' the son of Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban is named 'Sunday Rose,'" according to the German daily.
Hamalaw and his wife Daria Kareem have agreed to settle for the name "Dako" in their son's official birth certificate, although friends and family members continue to call the baby "WikiLeaks."
First published April 3 2014, 5:26 AM