Battle in US Court Over Right to Name Child ‘Allah’

Woman looking at large writing of the word Allah in Arabic script in 1999 in Edirne old Mosque, Turkey. Photo: Nevit Dilmen / Wikimedia Commons

ATLANTA — A civil rights group sued Georgia over the state’s refusal to allow a couple to officially name its 22-month-old child “Allah.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia filed the lawsuit recently in Fulton County Superior Court on behalf of the couple, Elizabeth Handy and Bilal Walk.

At issue is the young girl’s proposed last name of Allah.

State law requires a baby’s surname to be either that of the father of the mother for the initial birth record, lawyers for the Georgia Department of Public Health told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.


State officials say the child’s name  ZalyKha Graceful Lorraina Allah  should either be Handy, Walk or a combination of the two.

The couple gave her the name Allah because it is “noble,” they told the newspaper.

“Simply put, we have a personal understanding that we exercise in regards to the names,” Walk said. “It is nothing that we want to go into detail about, because it is not important. What is important is the language of the statute and our rights as parents.”

The ACLU of Georgia filed the lawsuit on behalf of the couple, who say they can’t get a Social Security number for their daughter because they don’t have a birth certificate. They also anticipate problems with access to health care, schools and travel, The Journal-Constitution reported.


“It is just plainly unfair and a violation of our rights,” Walk said.

The state’s decision is an example of government overreach and a violation of the First and 14th Amendments, ACLU of Georgia Executive Director Andrea Young said.

“The parents get to decide the name of the child. Not the state. It is an easy case,” said Michael Baumrind, another attorney representing the family.