He was christened ‘Saddam Hussain’ by an affectionate grandfather over two decades ago. Saddam’s grandfather believed that with this name, he would grow up to be a ‘positive’ human being. And while the 25-year-old doesn’t begrudge his grandfather for naming him after the Iraqi dictator, what has weighed him down is being rejected in 40 interviews owing to his name.
To put an end to his predicament, Saddam Hussain changed his name to Sajid and procured the required ID proofs with the new name like passport, voter ID and driving license. However, his university refused to change his name in the certificates unless he changed it in his class 10 and 12 CBSE documents first.
Sajid approached CBSE, but the latter has not yet responded to his request. Hailing from Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, Sajid has now moved the High Court to get his name changed on his CBSE certificates.
The Jharkhand High Court, however, seems to be treading with caution given that a number of people have abused the system in the past. The date of hearing has been fixed for May 5.
Sajid (then Saddam), a marine engineer, graduated from Tamil Nadu’s Noorul Islam University in 2014, ranking second in his batch. And while most of his batchmates are now employed, he has been rejected 40 times – for every job he has applied for. All because he shared his name with the deceased Iraqi ruler.
“People are scared to hire me,” Saddam told Bedanti Saran for Hindustan Times.
For the first six months, Sajid could not figure out why he was getting rejected. Upon enquiring with the HR of the companies, he found that his name was problematic for some of the employers. Once, he was told that having a crew member called ‘Saddam Hussain’ aboard a plane could cause “instant suspicion” and would be “an operational nightmare”.
A Delhi-based leading recruitment consultant told HT that because Sajid’s job would involve frequent travel abroad, little can be done if border patrol and airport authorities see his name ‘Saddam Hussain’ and raise a red flag. “If the person’s job involves frequent travel abroad, he might just keep getting stuck or the company has to pull him out of the sticky situation, making the hire cumbersome,” the consultant said.
Sajid said that while he remembers his grandfather with fondness now, he does feel that he is paying for his lapse of judgement. He told HT that he felt he was “an innocent victim” of someone else’s crimes.
This is not the first time someone with the name ‘Saddam’ has run into trouble. Prashant Rao reported for BBC that people often pay a heavy price for sharing a name with the former Iraqi dictator, even a decade after his death.
For instance, a journalist working in Ramadi, a Sunni city in Anbar was fired from his government job because his seniors in the organisation were convinced that he was a member of the dictator’s Ba’ath party.
In another case, a man from Baghdad was named after the former Iraqi President as a tribute to him, when he was still alive and admired. Saddam’s namesake suffered because of the impossible expectations his school teachers had from him. He would often be punished for not being able to show the brilliance to replicate Saddam Hussain’s apparent successes at school.