Going for a song: Iraq to get new national anthem and flag

Published September 22nd, 2012 - 03:00 GMT
Out with the old, in with the new: Iraq poised to get new anthem and flag
Out with the old, in with the new: Iraq poised to get new anthem and flag

After years of sectarian strife in the oil-rich nation, Iraq is to get a new flag and national anthem, with the aim to put decades of conflict behind them.

But there's still some work ahead of this mission to turn over a new leaf. “We are determined to finish the new flag and anthem this year, in this legislative session,” MP Ali Shlah, the chairman of parliament’s culture and media commission, told AFP.

Iraq has had several flags over the years, with the last flag being chosen in 2008, which was an updated version that removed the three stars that were a nod to the socialist ideals of the Baath party.

In 2004 the hand written calligraphy, said to be that of former leader Saddam Hussein, saying ‘Allahu Akhbar’ was removed, and replaced with Kufi style Arabic script.

The idea is that all Iraqis will be able to coalesce around the new flag and it will contain vertical stripes in green, white, and black. The middle stripe will feature an eight-pointed red star, to symbolise Arabs; this will be placed within a yellow circle, to symbolise the Kurds, based in the north of the country. Still, this design is still far from certain, as a short list of six is still being considered by the committee tasked with choosing the new flag.

AFP reported the Iraqi government as saying that the new flag demonstrates “the unity of Iraq’s land and people,” as well as the nation's hopes that “look optimistically to its future and proudly to its history.”

A new national anthem is also under consideration. Paul Bremner chose the current anthem, “Mawtini” or “My Homeland” in 2004. Bremner was the head of US installed Coalition Provisional Authority at the time. It is claimed he chose it after hearing it at a concert, making it the fifth change in national anthem.

The search for a new anthem is still on going, however, with AFP reporting that 400 different texts by Iraqi poets have been submitted to the committee between 2008 and 2009, with a short-list of three now being reviewed.

The current favourite is “Salam ala Hadhabat al-Iraq” (“Peace on the Hills of Iraq”), followed by “Ghareeb ala al-Khaleej” (“A Stranger on the Gulf”); and “Watani al-Haq Yuaiduhu” (“My Country is Supported by Right”), sources told AFP.

The new flag and a new anthem are being chosen by the culture and media committee of the Iraqi government, and in a nation where decision making has been problematic, to say the least, the choice of what flag and anthem to represent the country is no easy task. Almost ten years after the American-lead invasion, are we starting to witness the re-birth of a new, cohesive Iraq, where all feel proud to stand under one flag and sing the same national anthem?

 

What do you think? Does Iraq need a new flag and national anthem? Will this bring Iraqis closer together and finally banish the remnants of the old regime? Or is this a waste of the government's time?

 

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