Iraqi National Day…From the League of Nations to the politics of intolerance of sub-identities
Monday – 8 Rabi’ al-Awwal 1444 AH – 03 October 2022 AD
Demonstrators participate in the commemoration of the third anniversary of the “October Movement” in Baghdad (Reuters)
Baghdad: «Middle East»
No one in Iraq since 2003 remembers Iraq’s National Day, unlike before that date. But the secretariat of the Council of Ministers reminded people of an occasion that may not occur to many, which is Iraq’s accession to the League of Nations on October 3, 1932, as a national day. The Secretariat has designated this day, which falls on Monday, as an official holiday.
Older Iraqis who lived in the sixties and beyond, until the fall of Baghdad on the ninth of April 2003, remember the nature of the major celebrations that were held on this occasion.
Throughout the period of the monarchy from 1921 to 1958, a national day was not agreed upon, although the monarchy witnessed almost complete stability, with governments rotating power according to the rules of democratic action based on competing political parties. However, there are those who adopted the anniversary of August 23, 1923 for the coronation of King Faisal I as a national day, while there are those who preferred the day of Shaban 9, which was the start of the Great Arab Revolt led by Sharif Hussein bin Ali against the Ottoman Empire in 1916.
After the July 14 coup, the republican regime that abolished the monarchy considered the day of the coup a national holiday, although this day witnessed the killing of all members of the royal family, an event that Iraqis remember with great sadness.
After 10 years, the Baathists came to power in Iraq through the coup of July 17, 1968. Although Saddam Hussein kept July 14 as a national holiday until 1990, and he used to hold celebrations and receive congratulations from presidents and leaders in the world, he decided in 1990 to make July 17, the day His coming to power is a national holiday, with 14 July just an official holiday without celebrations.
Whether on July 14, 1958 or after July 17, 1968, old Iraqis remembered the nature of the major celebrations that were held on this occasion. It continued after 1990 until the fall of the “Baath” regime at the hands of the Americans in 2003.
After 2003, neither the National Day nor the national anthem nor the flag nor the slogan were agreed upon. In Iraq, the flag was changed 5 times from the royal era to today, the National Day was changed 4 times, and the logo was changed 3 times, as well as the national anthem. In fact, after 2003, a dispute occurred over the national identity, which declined after the sub-identities advanced: ethnic, religious, sectarian, regional, and tribal.
However, the government of the current Prime Minister, Mustafa Al-Kazemi, settled the controversy in this regard when it decided during September 2020 to choose October 3, 1932 as a national day, the day Iraq left the British Mandate and entered the “League of Nations” as an independent country. However, Parliament has not yet passed a law adopting this occasion.
On Monday, the streets witnessed very timid celebrations, represented by the traffic police and some volunteers, young men and women, raising Iraqi flags and distributing them to passersby.