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Mohammed retakes top spot in English baby names
August 14th, 2012
12:19 PM ET

Mohammed retakes top spot in English baby names

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN

Mohammed reclaimed its place as the most popular name for baby boys born in England and Wales in 2011 - convincingly ahead of Harry, in second place, according to data released by the government this week.

The government declared that Harry was the most popular boy's name, but if you add up the five most popular different spellings of Mohammed, that name comes top.

Mohammed is also the most popular boy's name of the past five years for England and Wales, ahead of Oliver and Jack. It came first or second every year since 2007, the only name to do so.

And it could become even more popular in 2012, given the adulation around long-distance runner Mo Farah, who won two gold medals for Britain at the Olympics.

The popularity of the name comes as Britain's Muslim population is expected to double in the next 20 years.

The country, which was about 2% Muslim in 1990, grew to 4.6% Muslim in 2010, with nearly 2.9 million followers of the faith, according to analysis by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

By 2030, the United Kingdom will be just over 8% Muslim, with more than 5.5 million adherents, the Washington-based think tank projected in a 2011 report, "The Future of the Global Muslim Population."

Mohammed first became the most popular boy's name in England in 2009, then was knocked back into second place the next year as Oliver enjoyed a huge surge in popularity.

Harry, the name of Prince William's younger brother and J.K. Rowling's boy wizard, leaped into second place in 2011, with 7,523 boys given the moniker, topping the 7,007 Olivers.

But the name of the Muslim prophet was given to 7,907 baby boys, according to CNN analysis of Office of National Statistics data. Mohammed, Muhammad and Mohammad were all among the top 100 most popular names, with Muhammed and Mohamed also coming in the top 200.

A total of 37,564 babies have been given a variation of the name in the past five years. Some 36,653 Olivers and 36,581 Jacks were born in England and Wales since 2007. The British government keeps separate statistics for Scotland and for Northern Ireland, the other two nations that make up the United Kingdom.

The 2011 British census had an optional question about religion. Results are expected in November.

At least four different spellings of the name Mohammed are among the 1,000 most popular American boys' names in 2011, according to the Social Security Administration.

Mohamed is the top, in 428th place, with Muhammad in 480th, Mohammed in 562nd and Mohammad in 609th.

The United States is about 0.8% Muslim, with about 2.6 million adherents, the Pew Forum calculates.

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Islam • Muslim • United Kingdom

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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.