Kurdish flag sparks controversy at former Iraqi president’s funeral

The coffin of former Iraqi president Jalal Talabani is covered with a Kurdish flag at Sulaimaniya Airport, Iraq, on October 6, 2017. (REUTERS/Ako Rasheed)
Updated 06 October 2017
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Kurdish flag sparks controversy at former Iraqi president’s funeral

IRBIL, Iraq: Jalal Talabani, the former Kurdish leader and Iraq’s first president under its postwar Constitution, who died in Germany on Tuesday aged 83, was laid to rest in the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniya on Friday.
Iraqi officials reportedly said that Talabani's body should have been transported to Baghdad first for an official funeral before sending the coffin to Sulaimaniya, but Talabani's family refused to allow his body to be taken to the Iraqi capital.
Special dispensation was required to allow the flight carrying Talabani’s body to land in Sulaimaniya, as the Iraqi government
imposed a ban on all international flights to Kurdistan following last week’s referendum in which people in northern Iraq voted in favor of Kurdish independence.
While the national anthems of both Iraq and Kurdistan were played at Talabani’s funeral, his coffin was draped in the Kurdish flag, which Reuters reported “sparked a wave of protests on media close to Shi’ite political groups.” Reuters added that Al-Etejah TV stopped its broadcast of the ceremony “because the coffin was not draped by the Iraqi flag.”
Talabani was a longtime advocate of Kurdish self-determination, and held the office of Iraqi president from 2005, following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, until 2014.
Leaders of Iraqi Kurdistan — President Masoud Barzani and Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani – attended the funeral, alongside Iraqi
President Fuad Masum, interior minister Qasim al-Araji, and the Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, Salim Al-Jabouri.
The Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, was the most senior foreign official present at the ceremony.


Iranian extremism ‘reinforcing instability’

MWL's Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa said Iran’s regional meddling would cause irreparable harm to its reputation. (Reuters)
Updated 20 September 2018
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Iranian extremism ‘reinforcing instability’

  • Muslim World League to counter sectarianism with interfaith summit in Beirut
  • Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa said the interfaith summit had particular relevance because of the pernicious influence of Iran in the region

BEIRUT: The Muslim World League (MWL) will hold an international Muslim-Christian summit in Beirut next year to combat hate speech and promote cultural and religious and diversity, the organization’s secretary-general said on Wednesday.

Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa said the interfaith summit had particular relevance because of the pernicious influence of Iran in the region.

“The extremist sectarian policy adopted by Iran is causing more trouble and reinforcing instability,” he said.
“We have always said that we are not against Shiism; Shiites are our citizens, neighbors, and brothers. We are against sectarian extremism.

“Intervening in the affairs of states and attempting to impose sectarian domination and a political agenda will only make things worse.”

The MWL had chosen Beirut for the summit because of its “religious diversity and great civilization,” Al-Issa said.

“We aim through the summit to achieve cooperation in initiatives that achieve common goals to serve humanity and promote love.”

Al-Issa said Iran’s regional meddling would cause irreparable harm to its reputation. 

“Calls for moderation have reached Iran from every advocate of peace and stability, but it refused to listen,” he said.

“Saudi Arabia and other peace-loving countries are doing their utmost to ensure stability and security, but Iran continues to defy the lessons of history.”

Al-Issa held talks on Wednesday with Lebanese President Michel Aoun and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.