Internet Backs Woman Refusing to Take Fiancé's Middle Eastern Last Name

The internet has back a woman's decision not to take her fiancé's surname, as it's the same as a "terrorist leader."

The bride-to-be explained the situation in a Reddit post, on the site's popular AmITheA**hole forum, under username Throwaway20868.

The 24-year-old began by stating she lived in the South, in a "more conservative" area. Without revealing her name, she said it's a traditional-sounding title—"think Mary Williams or Olivia Smith," she noted.

By contrast, her fiancé, 26, inherited his last name from his Arabic father, which she likened to "Mohammed or Hussein or Al-Baghdadi."

She previously told her future husband she'll be keeping her last name, partly due to the fact she's starting out her professional career, but also because he shares his name with "a famous Middle Eastern politician/terrorist leader."

After rejecting the name once more, the pair got into a heated discussion over it, as she wrote: "Tired of being hounded about this topic, I finally told him the truth – that I had always intended to take my future husband's last name before we met, it's just his name I don't want to take.

"I reminded him that his last name has caused his family nothing but trouble in this country, especially post 9/11. How he complains of being stopped at airports and that he and his siblings were teased for their name as kids, so much so that all his siblings, male and female, have since changed their last names.

"I pointed out that his name may be common in the Middle East, but it is also identical to a famous Middle Eastern politician/terrorist leader, and how people in the US subconsciously make that connection every time he introduces himself."

After sharing her feelings, she claims her fiancé accused her of being "racist and an a—hole and that I was saying that his name isn't good enough for me."

He also claimed he was "proud" of his name despite the hardship it's caused him, and pointed out he's the last of his family who can pass it on.

Difficult Socially for the Kids

But she continued: "I argued that it was selfish of him to want to pass on the last name that would make life harder for me professionally and difficult for our future kids socially, just for the sake of preserving the patriarchal tradition of keeping the man's name.

"That in his shoes, I wouldn't hesitate to change my last name to make life easier on my family. I even suggested a compromise where we both change our names to something different, maybe a name from the other side of his family so that we could all have the same last name and honor his family history. But he wasn't interested."

She claims everyone she's spoken to, who knows the name, has encouraged her not to take it.

"His family, on the other hand, are all advocating for me to take the name, even the siblings who changed it years ago," she added.

The post, entitled "AITA for not wanting my fiancé's last name because it is too Middle Eastern?" has amassed more than 10,000 upvotes and comments since being posted on Wednesday, and it can be read here.

After receiving a lot of comments, she sought to clarify her stance, adding: "I was attempting to write a title conveying the racism and judgment I fear for myself and my future kids without using words like "ethnic" or "terrorist."

"To clarify, I would take another Middle Eastern name, given that it isn't attached to any infamous people or political figures."

In the comments numerous people also sided with her, likening her situation to other names with negative connotations which have fallen out of fashion, such as Hitler, Stalin and Manson.

Bigtomhead sympathized: "It's not OP's fiancé's fault that his name has been ruined, but the name has been ruined all the same. Just pick a new one everybody likes.

"According to the OP the new name could even have middle eastern origins, it's just that one specific name she doesn't want, which sounds reasonable, especially if the fiancé name is what it seems like it is. NTA."

Desert_Sea_4998 pointed out: "It is also okay for him to take your name, or for both of you to change to a new name."

SundaColugoToffee revealed: "We had an Adolph. He changed it to Alph around the end of WW2."

Shexleesh reckoned: "It's also like the kids they have can easily when they're older decide if that want to take on their dads last name or not OP NTA."

Referring to the fiance's siblings, Crazymamallama commented: "They want the family name carried on, as long as they're not the ones who have to do it."

Scrapper-Mom said: "Also, think of the teasing any children would have to deal with. Kids are merciless. They'll find anything to make fun of when they can."

While Zagoing added: "Totally agreed. I really hope that they can find a creative solution that honors both of their heritages."

Various studies have shown people who don't have Westernized names got fewer callbacks for jobs.

Harvard Law School published findings from a 2016 study, "Whitened Resumes: Race and Self-Presentation in the Labor Market," published in Administrative Science Quarterly.

Researchers sent out 1,600 resumes, which either revealed "the applicants' minority status, while others were whitened, or scrubbed of racial clues."

They found: "Twenty-five percent of black candidates received callbacks from their whitened resumes, while only 10 percent got calls when they left ethnic details intact.

"Among Asians, 21 percent got calls if they used whitened resumes, whereas only 11.5 percent heard back if they sent resumes with racial references."

The findings were echoed in a similar British study in 2019, with the findings published by the Centre for Social Investigation, in partnership with the GEMM project.

They sent out 3,200 resumes for jobs "randomly varying applicants' minority background, but holding their skills, qualifications and work experience constant."

They found: "The job search effort was less successful for ethnic minorities who, despite having identical CVs and cover letters, needed to send 60% more applications in order to receive as many callbacks as the majority group."

Newsweek reached out to Throwaway20868 for comment.

File photo of a name badge.
A file photo of a name badge. A woman revealed she refused to take her fiance's last name as it's "identical to a famous Middle Eastern politician/terrorist leader." svengine/Getty Images