Meet the unfortunate man who can never have his name shouted out in public

Meet the unfortunate man who can never have his name shouted out in public

Picture this: you're standing in an a crowded airport, the flight is boarding, and you're ready to depart - the only thing is, your husband, who was standing right next to you just now, has disappeared. You scan the departures lounge, searching for a familiar face among the throng of anxious travellers, only to spot him outside the nearest store - phew - he's only gone to pick up some last minute snacks.

He doesn't notice you waving. You go to call his name - but wait - if you do that, security will close in, bystanders will panic, and you and your husband will likely be locked into a dank side-room to be interrogated for hours on end; hasta la vista, holiday!

Why? Your husband's name is Jihad.

This is the plight of Jihad Abdo, one of Syria's most famous actors.

While in the majority of Arabic-speaking countries, the name Jihad - which is sometimes spelled Jehad - is a common thing to name your child, since 9/11 and the ensuing War on Terror, the name has been associated with terrorist attacks in the public consciousness.

Abdo's name was known across Syria to his millions of fans - but when he relocated to America, after he was ordered to give a television interview in support of President Assad's regime - it was a name that authorities tracked, and resulted in his car being smashed up.

"I raced to America in October 2011," Abdo explained when speaking to the BBC - while on break from filming the US comedy-drama, Patriot. "In no time I was introducing myself to people and seeing this… reaction… Especially in the Midwest, when they heard my name was Jihad the first thing that appeared to their minds was the image of suicide bombers, and the jihadists that attack the army in Afghanistan or Iraq."

Abdo, whose most popular television show back in Syria had an audience of 50 million, just couldn't secure an acting gig in Los Angeles. He endured 100 failed auditions, and resorted to delivering pizza for Domino's.

Ultimately, he realised that in order to keep his career, he would have to let go of his name.

"I just imagine someone with the opposite thing in my country, with a name that we fear. He won't be able to make it big in the entertainment business," he stated. "And as Shakespeare said 400 years ago, 'What's in a name?' I said - 'Change it.' I love my name, but I also want to survive. I consider myself an open-minded guy, and my wife as well. Humbly speaking, we don't care about having this name or that name. What we care about is our mission in the world, our ethics and our achievements."

Although he considered "Jude", he eventually settled on "Jay", and things changed overnight. "Because Jay for them is a lovely guy - it brings to them Jay Leno or... lovely people - people they are comfortable with. It doesn't create any 'sensitivity', let's say," Abdo said.

Luckily, his family find the situation rather humorous. "They understand totally," Abdo asserted. "Because the same thing happened with the name Osama years ago. And the same thing happened in Russia with the name Koba after Stalin died. And the same thing happened with Adolf in Germany."

"I don't want to have problems because of my name when my mind is totally different - and my heart."