Internet outrage took an unexpectedly nasty turn on Wednesday, the 21st of December, once the birth of Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan’s newborn son, Taimur Ali Khan Pataudi was announced. Within minutes of the official announcement, #TaimurAliKhan began trending on Twitter, and in horribly divisive ways. While on the one hand, there were congratulatory messages, on the other, there was ugly Islamophobic hate against the couple for naming their newborn ‘Taimur’ – associating the name with medieval Turkish conqueror Timur the Lame, who had attacked Delhi in 1398.
Timur was leader of the Mongol empire and, in the late 1300s, had lead conquests all across Asia Minor, taking control of Persia, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Mesopotamia, and Georgia, and later, India. The name ‘Taimur’ however, also means ‘like iron’ in Persian, but twitter users clung on to the former meaning, and began berating the couple for naming their child after a Muslim invader, some even going so far as to wish death upon Kareena and calling the naming ‘child abuse’.
— Bhaarat Kurda (@TheBhaaratKurda) December 20, 2016
The amount of hate leveled at a newborn and his parents merely because of his name is truly ridiculous. Islamophobic comments, equating the name to Pakistani missiles and terrorists are rife, and it’s disgusting to see just how deep the anti-Muslim sentiment runs.
Saif Ali khan and Kareena Kapoor khan naming their child Taimur is equivalent to European naming their children Hitler..LOL.. #TaimurAliKhan
— Syed Tariq Pirzada (@tariq_pirzada) December 20, 2016
Soo Taimur Ali Khan is going to be the future Shahrukh Khan for US immigration authorities. ?
— Lazy Cat? (@DenNehaS) December 20, 2016
#TaimurAliKhan sound like a Pakistani missile.
— kill me softly (@hangmenow_) December 20, 2016
I think instead of screwing up Mumbai station names, the Maha government should change Taimur Ali Khan's name, that too on priority basis!!
— akshay sirsalewala (@akshaykumars) December 20, 2016
The outrage, however, seems hypocritical, and a Twitter user was quick to point out why:
Taimur means 'like iron'. If you're going to talk about names of warmongers, you can't name your child Arjun, Ashok, Richard, Edward etc.
— Peglet (@PedestrianPoet) December 20, 2016
Within Hindu and other non-Islamic communities, so-called ‘invaders’ have been glorified for decades. Take Shivaji, or even Ashoka for example – both of whom have plundered entire cities in their time, and are yet prominent historical figures. But that isn’t even the point here. We don’t know the motivations behind the couple’s naming of their child, so, to jump to these ridiculous assumptions and pelt Islamophobic hate upon them is completely out of line.
Right-wing outrage has become Indian Internet’s mainstay in recent times, and ever since the Uri surgical strikes, these have taken a decidedly anti-Islamic turn – Fawad Khan became its target in October, after the ban on Pakistani artists, and now it’s Taimur. It’s horrifying how easily ‘nationalistic’ narratives get dragged into these conversations, and how easily they become precedent for heaping abuse on innocent people. This time, it’s a mere infant who is under attack, and that itself is scary. What does it say about us, as a society, that we would wish death and calamity upon parents for simply naming their kid after a controversial historical figure? When the kid is being born into a loving family, and is healthy and happy – isn’t that the most important thing?
It’s actually as simple as what the baby’s grandpa (Kareena’s uncle) Rishi Kapoor said:
Why are people so bothered what the parents want to name their child please?Mind your business,it's got nothing to do with you.Parents wish!
— Rishi Kapoor (@chintskap) December 21, 2016