Iraq removes Saddam references from flag

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The new flag retains the red, white and black design.
The flag as redesigned in 2004.
The pre-2004 flag. Note the stars and the handwritten script.

The parliament of Iraq has approved a new flag for the country.

The new design no longer has the three green stars of the old flag, as they represented the ideals of the Baath party - "Unity, Freedom, Socialism". Saddam Hussein was a leading member of the Baath party before his rule was ended in 2003.

The stars had upset many Kurds, who viewed them as a symbol of the régime that had killed thousands of their people. Massoud Barzani, President of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government, banned the flag in his region in 2006.

"The new flag has no signs of Saddam's regime and is a sign that change has been achieved in the country", said Humam Hamoudi, a member of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council.

The parliament voted 110-50 in favor of the change. They stated the new flag is only temporary, and that they will seek another redesign after a year has passed.

Parliament speaker Mahmud Mashhadani said the new flag will be flown from "constitutional and non-constitutional institutions", as well as in Kurdish regions and Iraqi embassies.

Some, like Sadrist lawmaker Ahmed al-Masody, opposed the stars' removal. "We would have announced that they don't symbolize the Baath Party, but other principles, like justice", al-Masody said. He refers to a different proposal that would have changed the script's color to yellow and made the stars represent "peace, tolerance and justice".

The flag previously went through changes in 2004, when the Arabic inscription "Allahu Akbar", meaning "God is great", was changed to a stylized Kufic script. The words on the old flag were alleged to be in Saddam Hussein's handwriting.


This audio file was created from the text revision dated 2008-01-23 and may not reflect subsequent text edits to this report. (audio help)