Muhammad is not Australia’s No1 baby boy name

FactCheck July 3, 2019

The Statement

AAP FactCheck examined a Facebook post from June 26, 2019 showing a screenshot of the ‘Top Names For Boys’ as aired on Channel Nine’s Today Extra TV program. The screenshot shows Muhammad as the number one-ranked name followed by Noah, George, Oliver and Charlie.

The Facebook post from June 26 2019, claimed to show a list of the top boys names in Australia as aired on Channel Nine’s Today Extra program.

The image was posted by a member of Common Cause Australia, a public group that supports “all Australian patriot political parties”, and advocates for “no Halal – no sharia law – no burqa” and  to “Make Australia Great Again”.

At the time this article was published, the post had attracted 478 shares, 33 comments and 85 reactions. Accompanying the screenshot is the caption: “Just announced on Channel 9 the TOP 5 Baby Boy names in Australia for 2019. I took this photo myself this morning off the tv. I did not fake or change it.”

The Analysis

The post links to the Facebook page of Common Cause Australia, where they outline their anti-Islamic agenda, including their wish to “Ban the Koran. STOP ALL islamic immigration to OZ … Rid OZ of all Mosques.”

The Today Extra program confirmed in a statement to AAP FactCheck that it ran a “quick read” segment on June 26, 2019 referencing a June 25 story from the website of UK newspaper The Sun, titled ‘Name Game Most popular baby names of 2019 so far revealed’

The BBC investigated whether Muhammad was a popular baby name due to up to 12 variations in spellings.

The story cited the website BabyCentre which analysed the most popular UK baby names for 2019 so far, listing Muhammed as the most popular choice for boys. BabyCentre’s list of names was compiled using parent registrations on its UK website.

In 2017, Britain’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) ranked Muhammad as the 10th most popular name for boys in England and Wales. The most popular name was Oliver. Figures for 2018 are due to be released later this year.

A 2014 story titled ‘Is Muhammad the most popular boy’s name in Britain?’ The Guardian examined the difference between the ONS count and the methodology used by BabyCentre.

BabyCentre said its rankings “combine names that sound the same but have different spellings, giving a measure of baby name popularity. We have found, in the past, that this is a good indicator of the ONS statistics that are released the following year”.

The BBC also examined the issue in a 2018 story titled ‘Baby names: Is Muhammad the most popular?’It looked at whether Muhammad was a popular baby name due to the up to 12 variations in spelling for that name, includinng Mohammad, Muhamed, Mohamud, Mohummad, Mohummed, Mouhamed, Mohammod and Mouhamad. 

The ONS said it treated each spelling separately and ranked each according to how many times an individual spelling appeared on a birth certificate. 

Australian Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry statistics and government data on the most popular baby names in 2018 show Muhammad (only spelling) ranked 44th in both NSW and Victoria. No spelling of the name was listed in the top 100 names for Queensland and South Australia, it was not in the top 50 in Western Australia, the top 20 for Northern Territory nor the top 10 for Tasmania and the ACT.

Baby Names Australia 2019, published by social research group McCrindle, found the name Muhammad was ranked 73rd in 2018 with 343 occurrences. No other spelling variations were listed. The five top boys names on this list, in order, were Oliver, Jack, William, Noah and Henry.

The June 26, 2019 Facebook post by Common Cause Australia claimed the 2019 top five Australian list was in order Muhammad, Noah, George, Oliver and Charlie.

The Verdict 

Based on this evidence AAP FactCheck found the Facebook post to be false. It did not show the “TOP 5 Baby Boy names in Australia for 2019” as claimed. The accompanying image listed Britain’s top baby boy names, as reported by The Sun newspaper. 

False – The Facebook post is false

 First published July 3, 2019 14:36 AEST

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