Kurds hoist reworked Iraqi flag

Other News Materials 11 February 2008 02:45 (UTC +04:00)

( BBC ) - The new Iraqi flag, purged of references to former leader Saddam Hussein, has been flown in the Kurdish region of Iraq for the first time.

Iraqi Kurds victimised under the former regime sought the changes, which were approved last month and are seen as a symbolic break with the past.

Three stars representing the former ruling Baath party have been removed from the flag.

Script said to be in Saddam Hussein's handwriting was amended in 2004.

Last week, the flag was hoisted over the Iraqi cabinet building in Baghdad.

Raising the flag above the Kurdish parliament in Irbil "is a reply to the misunderstanding and feeling that the Kurds are far from the Iraqi government and that they are far from the Iraqi constitution," Adnan al-Mufti, speaker of the National Assembly said after the ceremony.

The new flag retains the three colours of the old one - red, white and black.

But the stars that represented the ideology of the Baath party - unity, freedom and socialism - have been removed.

In 2004, a line of Arabic script reading "Allahu Akbar", or "God is great", supposedly in Saddam Hussein's handwriting, was changed to a different calligraphy.

Not all Iraqis are impressed with the change. Nevertheless, the change is only temporary, as a design for a new flag will be sought after one year.

The Kurds are demanding that yellow should be added to the new flag.

In 2004, Iraq's then US-appointed governing council tried to introduce an entirely new blue, white and yellow flag, but it was withdrawn after protests including the objection that it too closely resembled the flag of Israel.