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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 April, 2004, 16:47 GMT 17:47 UK
Iraqis unimpressed by flag design
The flag is due to be officially unveiled on Wednesday
Hundreds of Iraqis have been e-mailing BBC News Online to comment on the new Iraqi flag unveiled yesterday.

Some said it was a welcome break from the former regime of Saddam Hussein, but many criticised the design.

The flag is mostly white with a blue crescent symbolising Islam. Two blue strips stand for Iraq's rivers while a yellow strip represents the Kurds.

The biggest complaint was that it had been chosen by Iraq's US-appointed council without consulting the people.

"I think the so-called Governing Council has no right whatsoever to change the flag of Iraq," Ala' Al-Tamimi from the southern city of Basra wrote in a typical response.

"They are not a legitimate government and their decision would not be accepted by most Iraqis."

Other Iraqis questioned the Council's priorities - such as Dunia Khalil Hussein from the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

I will be very sad if the new flag will be imposed on us and I will never regard it as part of my identity.
Alia Salim in Basra, Iraq
She expressed disbelief that the Council had spent time and resources to change the Iraq flag while unrest continued in the country.

"Iraq has more important issues to be dealt with now," she said.

"The old flag didn't represent Saddam. It represented Iraq. Changing it means uprooting part of Iraq."

Her comments were echoed by Yasir Alani, also in Baghdad.

"As if all our problems are due to a flag that might appeal to some and not to others," he wrote.

Abu Ibrahim of Nasriyah says the design by Rifat Chaderchi was probably chosen because he is related to Governing Council member Naseer Chaderchi.

"We had over 30 designs to choose from for our new flag. Surprise, surprise he chose his younger brother's design which a lot of Iraqis say resembles the Israeli flag! Iraq is still a corrupt state."

Not Arab enough

Some readers felt the design alienated Iraqis from their fellow Arab nations.

"Millions of Iraqi people like me are proud of our flag - red, white and black with three green stars - it represents our pan-Arab identity," Alia Salim from Basra said.

'Old' Iraqi flag
Some Iraqis said the current flag reminded them of the old regime
The fact that it was Saddam Hussein who had the words Allahu Akbar (God is Great) during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s is not a problem.

"Our flag had flown for more than 40 years and it has nothing to do with the previous regime," Alia says.

"I will be very sad if the new flag will be imposed on us and I will never regard it as part of my identity."

Many Iraqis echoed Abu Ibrahim saying the new design looked more than anything like the flag of their deadliest enemy - Israel.

UK-resident Hassan al-Zubaydi says this is just another example of how American is trying to isolate Iraq from the rest of the Arab World.

"This new flag adds to the list - we have a new flag which has similar colour markings to that of the Israeli flag? Coincidence? Highly unlikely!"

Tariq Abdel-Fattah, a Bagdadi living in the US, also notices a similarity which he says "makes me shiver since it resembles the death to Arabs".

'Unifying people'

Many Iraqis expressed regret that not enough of Iraq's ethnic and religious groups - such as Turkmen, Assyrians or Iraqi Christians - were represented in the design.

This is a horrible flag... since when was blue an Iraqi colour?
Deneris Fann, Iraqi living in the UK
"I am pleased that [Muslims] chose to be representative in its design," Isah Sahabbi al- Tikriti, an Iraqi living in the US state of Michigan, wrote.

"However, it would have been nice if they had included something for the Christians, like myself, in the design also."

But some found the flag tried too hard to include Iraq's diverse peoples.

"The old flag represents Iraq and that's what we need," Ehab Nader in Baghdad wrote

"We don't need a flag that represent different ethnic groups, we need a flag that unifies people and does not divide them into different groups."

'A good step'

For some Iraqi readers, the problem was of a simple aesthetic nature.

"This is a horrible flag... since when was blue an Iraqi colour?" asked Deneris Fann, an Iraqi currently living in the UK.

But while some did not like the design, the reasons behind it at least were admirable.

"It is still good that we are slowly getting rid of the material things of Saddam's era," one reader said.

There were a few positive voices amidst the chorus of disapproval.

"I believe that the new flag is a good step into the future of Iraq," one Baghdad resident said in his e-mail.

"It mirrors the current situation in Iraq, with all its problems and virtues."

And there were one or two suggested modifications.

"I like the blue for the rivers," enthused reader Ali Hussein Baghbar. "[But] make the crescent green, then it will be better."

No competition

The final word goes to Taha al-Hiti, an Iraqi calligrapher now living in London.

"Why was there no competition to design it? It doesn't sound very democratic when we hear about our symbols changing all of a sudden, without any question," he wrote to BBC News Online.

"I believe that the Iraqi culture has more expressive elements than two lines and a crescent.

"I am a part of the design team for the new Camden Town [underground] station in London. For the past months, we had to listen to every word, change our design according to the public interest.

"That was for an underground station. A country's identity is a much bigger issue, isn't it?"




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