Excerpt:

Last week the news arrived that the most popular name given to boys in the UK in 2014 was "Mohammed." The reactions and non-reactions to this story betrayed the deep unease and denial that are now part of the debate around Islam in modern Britain.

We have of course been here before. For some years now, there have been stories of "Mohammed" creeping up the list of most popular names in the UK. And each time the reaction has been similar.

First there come doubts over the sources of such stories, whether informal contributions from, for instance, new mothers' websites, or official statistics. There is also now extensive discussion about the varied possible spellings of the name (Muhammad and Mohammad for instance). Each year this leads to a fruitful and interesting debate about whether the reason why this name has come so high up the list of most popular boy's names is because all the different variants of the spelling have been clumped together or whether the name is lower down than it would be because they have been kept apart. This is a now traditional annual debate in Britain.


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