Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Not too long ago there was a major flap over redesigning the Georgia state flag. In 1956 segregationists removed the three parallel bars from the existing state flag and replaced them with the infamous Confederate battle flag, the Stars and Bars. In the mid-1980s activists began introducing bills to rid the flag of this symbol, and it took until 2001 to change the flag into a version of what South Africa's flag was during apartheid -- a large flag which incorporates past historical flags in miniature on the field. Everybody more or less hated this new state flag, and the unfortunate thing lasted a mere two years. In 2003 the state flag was revised once again, returning more or less to its pre-1956 roots. In all, it took some 45 years to resolve the Georgia flag flap.

I relate this story because it is clear that nobody from Georgia had anything to do with designing and introducing the new post-Saddam Iraqi flag.

Not only is the thing just plain ugly; the Iraqis really seem to hate it, and for a number of reasons. The blue and white motif has been compared to the Israeli flag, and one can't help but see the color similarities. This choice is even more idiotic when one recognizes, as Baghdad supermarket owner Muthana Khalil immediately did (and why can't the Americans in Baghdad figure this stuff out, too?????)
The flags of other Arab countries are red and green and black. Why did they put in these colors that are the same as Israel? Why was the public opinion not consulted?
When the US became independent, we still kept the red, white and blue of the Union Jack. Slavic countries tend to play on variations of the same theme of red-white-blue parallel horizontal bars (e.g. Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Croatia, Yugoslavia). And indeed, most Arab countries use red, green, black and white, derived from the flag used in the 1916 Arab revolt.

It turns out that a brother of the chairman of the flag committee of the Iraqi Governing Council came up with the new design. To make matters even worse, this brother doesn't even live in Iraq now, but in London, and seems to have been assigned the task in complete isolation from the opinions of anybody beyond the IGC.
"I had no idea about a competition to design the flag. My brother just called me and asked me to design a flag on behalf of the IGC. Nobody told me about a competition," Mr Chadirji told The Independent yesterday.
I can't imagine a blue, white, yellow and teal flag is going to last in the new Iraq.


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