Protests Prompt New Iraqi Flag Color Change

Iraqi leaders presented a new national flag Wednesday after protests that a version unveiled earlier this week resembled the flag of Israel.

The new design was more or less the same as the one announced earlier this week: two blue stripes along the bottom with a yellow stripe between them, and a crescent above them in a white field.

But the stripes and crescent were a considerably darker shade of blue than the original version published in an Iraqi newspaper, which showed the stripes as being light blue.

Many said the light blue stripes were reminiscent of the light blue bands on the Israeli flag. Hundreds of university students in Mosul (search) demonstrated against that version Wednesday.

They waved the old Saddam (search)-era flag — a red, black and green banner emblazoned with the words "God is great" — and said it should not have been changed because it carries the name of God.

Council spokesman Hameed al-Kafaei said the flag's colors were not changed, but rather "the copies you saw in newspapers were not accurate."

In the new flag, the parallel blue lines represent the Tigris (search) and Euphrates (search) Rivers — and by extension Iraq's Sunni and Shiite Arabs, since the river basin is their heartland. The yellow line represents the Kurds, while the crescent is a symbol of Islam.

But Governing Council president Massoud Barzani said the design was temporary.

"This will be Iraq's flag for the coming months until a permanent flag is chosen," he said.

He said of the former flag: "We cannot raise the flag of a party that committed many crimes against Iraqi people."