photo: Eddy van Wessel


Thursday, May 16, 2013

A new king

I have a new King. When he was sworn in on Tuesday April 30, my country turned orange, the colour of our royalty, and in case of football matches and other informal national celebrations very much the national colour. When Holland plays in the European or World Cup, whole streets turn orange.

Yet the Dutch flag is red, white and blue. Orange is the colour of our monarchy, the House of Orange. But who cares? In Holland even revolutionaries accept a King, and until recently a Queen. Here everybody has one day a year (Queens Day, now Kings Day) for fun and games. The country is closed; everybody is out for games, the Queen/King mingles with the people.

I was reminded of this, when during the Kurdish New year, Nowroz I saw the new trend of dressing cars with big Kurdish flags. Or flying a little one from the car window. Fences are painted in the Kurdish colours. And recently I saw that near Korek Mountain a resort is being built in those colours.

That is as far as the similarities go. Because Kurds handle their flag in a different way from the Dutch. For the simple reason that the Kurdish one is still new, that not so long ago it was punishable to have one. Now you can wave it openly and you do so proudly. The Dutch use their flag more as a ritual, and the orange colour as a way to feel connected.

A while ago in some areas only the Kurdish flag was flying, and not the Iraqi. The Zakho checkpoint had only the one flag, as a signal one was entering Kurdistan, and a denial of the fact that it still is part of Iraq.
The flag in Kurdistan is part of a nationalistic tendency. Kurdistan has hardly any souvenirs, but it does have flags in all sizes. And there are pins of the Bigger Kurdistan in the colours of the flag. For Kurds the flag is all about the nation they fought for.

When I watched the ceremony in which the Dutch parliament accepted the new monarch after he vowed to serve the country, I understood what Kurds feel about their flag. I felt proud of my nation, where democracy and monarchy go hand in hand. Where the King is not the big boss, but plays the role the democratic system allows him to. Where people even make a song to welcome him - and after much criticism and discussion, that still is song for them with thousands in a football stadium. 

These special moments hold the country together. I wish Kurdistan to have many of moments like this.

This column was published in Kurdish by Kurdistani Nwe newspaper.

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