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Hit the Road, Jack

Samara Greenberg

Mohammed was the most popular name for newborn boys in Britain for the first time in 2009, overtaking Jack, which topped the list for the past 14 years but was relegated to third last year. The second most popular boy’s name, Oliver – given to 7,364 babies – ranked number one on the list since the name Mohammed can be spelled in various ways. Taking the 12 variations of the Islamic prophet’s name into account, Mohammed topped the list with a total of 7,549 namings.

According to analysts, the development does not reflect an “explosion” in the British Muslim population, but rather that the British Muslim population is becoming increasingly religious. In 2008, Mohammed was the second most popular name in England and Wales after variant spellings of the name were taken into account.

The increase in Britain’s Muslim population has not come without tension.

The Muslim population has risen rapidly in Western Europe over the past 20 years, growing from under 10 million in 1990 to about 17 million today. The increase in population has come with its share of tensions, however, ranging from violence in parts of England to legal restrictions like banning the burqa in France and minarets in Switzerland. The United Kingdom is home to approximately 2.9 million Muslims, or about 4.6 percent of the population.

The U.K. in 2009 also witnessed the celebration of ‘royal’ names with the birth of 68 Princes, 16 Kings, 11 Earls, 8 Dukes, 4 Barons, 4 Lords, and 3 King Davids. There were also 109 Princesses, 12 Queenies, 7 Queens, and 5 Ladys.