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Monday, 12 April 2010

Frightening flags

As I've mentioned before, my son loves flags, so sometimes we check out Flags of the World, a great site where we can fly around the globe in an imaginary plane and look at all the colorful flags. This one, thankfully, is not among them.

It's is from the Benin Empire, and dates to the early 19th century. That empire is now defunct, probably because they weren't as good at chopping people's heads off as the competition. I have to say it's an odd flag. A nation's banner is supposed to symbolize its very essence, what it means to be part of that nation, and this is what the leaders of the Benin Empire came up with? Ah well, that was a while ago, and the world has changed right? Nope. Exhibit A: the flag of Saudi Arabia.

The Arabic is the Shahada, the Muslim article of faith, saying, "There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah." No problem there, but what's with the sword? Is this how they want Islam to be depicted? How about giving money to the poor, which is one of the five pillars of Islam, unlike lopping people's heads or hands off. Then we have Exhibit B, the flag of Mozambique, also a modern example:

Yep, that's a Kalashnikov! The flag was adopted in 1983 and is based upon the flag of the Liberation Front of Mozambique, which fought for independence from Portugal and eventually won. A Marxist party, it incorporates as its symbol a hoe, book, and gun, a common Marxist collection to show the unity of various parts of society. In the 90s the party dropped its Marxist ideology but hasn't changed the flag. Opposition groups have called for a new image, but so far nothing has changed.

Now I know it's not politically correct to criticize anyone's culture but your own, but I have to say, "People, change your bloody flags!" And I do mean bloody. How am I supposed to explain flags like these to a four year-old?

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