When Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas went to the United Nations to ask for recognition of a Palestinian state Friday, Gaza residents weren’t allowed to celebrate in the streets like Palestinians in the West Bank.
Yet one Gazan family found its own way to celebrate. They named their newborn daughter after the occasion. Ayloul Abu Asser was born Sept. 21, as the UN General Assembly was preparing for Mr. Abbas’s request. It was also the same day that Gaza’s Hamas government, a political rival of Mr. Abbas’s Fatah faction, announced that public celebrations of the statehood bid were forbidden.
That didn’t stop Hamad Nasr Abu Asser and Reda Abu Asser from naming their daughter after the month during which Abbas presented his request. Ayloul is the Arabic name for September.
“Hamas prevented any action in the street, so we decided to celebrate in our own way,” says Hamad, Ayloul’s father. The couple supports Fatah, and are were hopeful that Abbas’s speech may bring their dream of statehood closer.
And their daughter’s unusual name is not just a celebration of the occasion, but also a reminder. They hope that Ayloul will be able to grow up in an independent Palestinian state. But if that doesn’t happen, she will keep the dream alive for the next generation.
“If we don’t establish a state, her generation will carry on the project,” says Reda, Ayloul’s mother. Her baby is wrapped in a Palestinian kuffeiyah, and wears a headband in the black, white, and green of the Palestinian flag.
“One day she will ask why her name is Ayloul,” says her father. “So the movement will go on with her.”
Ayloul is the fifth child for Hamad and Reda. Relatives and family were surprised by the name they picked, but support them wholeheartedly.
On the night that Abbas delivered his request to the UN, the couple invited friends and family to their modest home in the Shejaeya neighborhood of Gaza City to celebrate with two-day-old Ayloul. Gazan families often celebrate by slaughtering a sheep when a boy is born. A girl doesn’t usually merit such celebration. But for Ayloul, the family slaughtered two sheep and feasted with the family.