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Iraqi Parliament puts a Ban on Display of Israeli Flag and ‘Zionist’ Symbols Across the Country

Speaker of the Iraqi parliament announced the raising of Israeli flag in the country as a punishable offence that would be dealt with criminal prosecution

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Israeli Flag
An Israeli Flag Flies on a hill near Bethlehem. VOA.
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Erbil, November 1: Following the display of Israeli flag in pro-independence Kurdish rallies, the Iraqi parliament, known as the Council of Representatives, voted Tuesday to ban the Israeli flag, describing it as a Zionist symbol.

“A dangerous phenomenon, representing the hoisting of the Zionist entity flag during public rallies in front of the media, has recently appeared that breaks the basic constitutional principles of Iraq,” Salim al-Jabouri, Speaker of the Iraqi parliament, said while announcing the law that vows criminal prosecution against those who raise the Israeli flag in the country.

“This is an exercise that damages the reputation of Iraq and its nation and the law punishes it by the maximum penalties,” the speaker added.

The law was introduced by the parliamentary bloc of the Shiite Supreme Islamic Council and was unanimously approved by other members of the Iraqi parliament. It ordered law enforcement to pursue criminal charges against “those who promote Zionist symbols in public rallies in any form, including the hoisting of the Zionist flag.”

Israeli flags were appearing frequently during Kurdish rallies in the run up to the Kurdish referendum vote that was held Sept. 25, with 92 percent voting in favor of secession from the central government in Baghdad.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has said their hoisting at the gatherings was “spontaneous” and did not reflect the position of the government, which cannot formally establish relations with Israel due to the policy of the government in Baghdad that does not recognize Israel as a state.

Israeli Flag
Salim al-Jabouri, Speaker of the Iraqi parliament announced the display of Israeli flag as a criminal offence. VOA.

‘A second Israel’

Some officials of the central government in Baghdad and elements in the neighboring Turkey and Iran have accused Kurdish leaders of secret ties with what they termed “Zionists” and have described the Kurdish bid for independence an orchestrated plan to establish “the second Israel in Middle East.”

Israel is denying any involvement in the controversial referendum, but it is the only country that has openly supported the Kurdish aspirations for independence.

“The Kurds demonstrate national maturity and international maturity,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier this month. “We have very great sympathy for their desires and the world needs to concern itself with their safety and with their future.”

Other countries — including the United States and EU members which consider the Kurdistan Regional Government a reliable ally, particularly in the current fight against IS — have publicly opposed the Kurdish referendum, arguing that the move diverts attention from the more crucial fight against the Islamic State in the region.

U.S. officials say the cooperation between the Kurdish forces known as Peshmerga and the Iraqi army played a critical role in removing the Islamic State fighters from Iraq’s second-largest city of Mosul. They say the Kurdish vote for independence has disrupted that cooperation and resulted in clashes between the region and the central government, particularly on the fate of territories disputed between both sides. (VOA)

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Narendra Modi to Inaugurate Abu Dhabi’s First Hindu Temple

As of now, there is only one Hindu temple located in UAE, which is situated in Dubai

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will also hold a meeting there with the Indian community. Wikimedia Commons
will also hold a meeting there with the Indian community. Wikimedia Commons

On his next visit to the United Arab Emirates as part of his West Asia tour starting 9 February, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be inaugurating first-ever Hindu temple to be constructed in Abu Dhabi as reported by Economic Times.

During Modi’s visit to the oil-rich nation in 2015, around 20,000 square metres of land was allotted for the construction of a temple in Abu Dhabi’s Al Wathba.

According to the records, UAE is home to as many as 2.6 million Indians, who form around 30 percent of the total population of the country. As of now, there is only one Hindu temple located in UAE, which is situated in Dubai.

Prime Minister Modi visit to UAE will kick start on 10 February. After landing in Abu Dhabi, he will be travelling to Dubai the next day. On a three-day event in Dubai to which India has been invited as the guest country, Modi will be addressing a large gathering of Indians in Dubai Opera on 11 February sixth World Government Summit.

After the Prime Minister’s visit in 2015, India’s relations with the UAE have seen some remarkable advancements. On India’s 68th Republic Day celebration, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyanthe was honoured as the chief guest. Just after that visit of Zayed Al Nahyanthe, UAE initiated a USD 75 billion sovereign funds for India.
Interestingly, UAE remains to be India’s number one trading partner and the current annual trade between the two countries stands at around USD 53 billion.

Following UAE’s visit, Prime Minister Modi will be visiting two other countries in West Asia – Palestine and Oman. The visit to Palestine will be first Indian Prime Minister to the country in seven decades. Last year, Modi had visited Israel, the arch-rival of Palestine and hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a six-day visit to India between 14-19 January.