How Mubarak's Name Is Screwing Up 2011 Ramadan Greetings

Traditionally you say "blessed Ramadan," but "mubarak" is the word for "blessed"

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As Muslims observe the first day of the holy month of Ramadan, there are a lot of "Ramadan Mubarak" (Blessed Ramadan) wishes going around--so much, in fact, that the traditional greeting is a worldwide trending topic on Twitter. But, as several people are pointing out today on the microblogging site, the phrase has a different ring to it in the wake of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's resignation during the Arab Spring--his name and "blessed," just as the transliteration suggests, are in fact the same word: مبارك. "Never say "Ramadan #Mubarak" to your #Egyptian friends, they simply hate the name ... Use Ramadan Kareem instead," Turkish Middle East expert Ufuk Ulutas advises, echoing Al Aan TV's Jenan Moussa, among others. The Gaza Youth Break Out Twitter feed offers similar guidance: "I hate remembering #Mubarak, say Ramadan Kareem. Thank God none of the arab leaders is called kareem." Perhaps all this explains why President Obama wished Muslims around the world a "blessed month" in English and a "Ramadan Kareem" in Arabic today.

NPR's Andy Carvin is surprised by how few people are saying Ramadan Mubarak. "You would think they'd consider Mubarak finally reclaimed as theirs, not his," he tweets. Still others are cracking jokes. "#Ramadan Mubarak is so 2010. We now say Ramadan Tantawi," tweets Egyptian activist Hussein Allam, in reference to Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the head of Egypt's ruling military council. "#slapyourself if you think Ramadan Mubarak is the son of Hosni Mubarak," Kenyan blogger Gidi O. Gidi adds. But not everyone's amused. "I, seriously, will unfollow anyone who tweets a lame joke about Ramadan 'Mubarak' and Eid 'Mubarak,'" warns Egypt-based Twitter user @sselhelw.

The first day of Ramadan, in fact, is proving quite tense in Egypt. Only a day after a coalition of political parties and pro-democracy activists announced that they'd suspend their protest in Tahrir Square until after Ramadan, tanks and riot police have stormed the square, dismantling tents, chasing away protesters, and detaining some activists, according to the Los Angeles Times. Most of the protesters who were still in the square when the security forces arrived were relatives of Egyptians killed during the revolution in February, according to the paper. You can watch footage of the clashes, highlighted by NPR's Andy Carvin, here.

The picture above shows a street vendor plugging in Ramadan decorations in Amman, Jordan on Friday. We've added an arrow pointing to the word "mubarak"--the first part is "Ramadan."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.