Iraqi Kurds Protest Kurdish Flag Ban

Posted October 16th, 2011 at 2:50 pm (UTC-5)
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Hundreds of Iraqi Kurds have protested in a disputed Iraqi city against an order banning Kurdish flags in official buildings.

Kurdish protesters in the city of Khanaqin waved Kurdish flags, screamed anti-government slogans and chanted “Khanaqin is Kurdish.”

The city, 140 kilometers north of Baghdad, is in Diyala province. The area is part of territory claimed by both Kurds in the north and Iraq's central government in Baghdad. The province falls under Baghdad's control but contains a large number of Kurds who prefer to align their city with the autonomous Kurdish north.

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Moussawi said raising the Kurdish flag in disputed territories is “constitutional violation” that could increase tensions. The town has not followed the banning, and Kurdish flags still fly on government buildings, shops and vehicles.

The flying of the Kurdish flag is an emotional issue, with some Kurds seeing the flag as a symbol against the regime of ousted Iraqi dictator, the late Saddam Hussein. Some Arabs, however, see the flag as an expansion of Kurdish influence.