Iraq settles flag dispute

Iraqi parliament approves temporary post-Saddam flag in symbolic break with past.

    The old Iraqi flag featured a phrase
    handwritten  by Saddam [AFP]

    The phrase Allahu Akbar (God is great) in green Arabic script remains on the new flag.
    The script was originally in Saddam's handwriting but was changed unofficially in 2004 to Kufic, an early form of Arabic calligraphy that originated in Iraq.
    The new flag will only last for one year, during which time discussions will continue on what the final flag should look like.
    The 2004 interim government had previously attempted to change the flag but this was rejected by Iraqis.
    The debate over a post-Saddam flag was accelerated by a planned pan-Arab meeting of politicians in Iraq's largely autonomous Kurdistan region on March 10.
    Kurdish officials said they would refuse to fly the current flag, which is banned in Kurdistan.
    Colour debate
    The Kurds had wanted the colour of the script changed to yellow to symbolise the Kurdish nation, but it was decided this would be too difficult to read on a white background.
    "We are not trying to create a new flag, but we are moving quickly to create a temporary flag that can be flown at the parliamentary conference in Arbil," Mofeed al-Jazarie, head of parliament's culture committee, said.
    Kurdistan banned the use of the Iraqi flag on public buildings in 2006, sparking a bitter row with prime minister Nuri al-Maliki's Shia led government.
    Kurds associate the flag with Saddam's genocidal Anfal campaign against them in the late 1980s in which tens of thousands of people were bombed, shot and gassed.
    The new flag will fly at the March 10 pan-Arab gathering in Arbil, the capital of Kurdistan.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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