Jordan introduces historic flag in defiance of ISIS
Amman - In a surprise move, Jordan’s King Abdullah II introduced a historic flag to convey Islam’s message of tolerance and counter claims by the Islamic State (ISIS) that its brand of militant Islam is alien to the religion.
A moderate Arab leader whose nation maintains close ties with the United States and is one of two Arab nations to have a signed peace treaty with Israel, Abdullah has declared war on ISIS.
The monarch is a participant in a US-led coalition, which is striking at ISIS strongholds in Iraq and Syria. One of his Royal Jordanian Air Force pilots, Lieutenant Muath al- Kasasbeh, was captured by ISIS on December 24th and burned alive in a cage on January 4th in a gruesome crime that sent chills across Jordan.
Once ISIS released video of the killing, Abdullah ordered additional attacks on the militant group, naming the operation “Muath the Martyr”. ISIS threatened the king with death and said it would topple the Hashemite crown.
Most significant about the new standard is its clear defiance of ISIS militants, who have set up a self-declared caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria and adopted a black Islamic flag with religious words and symbols, including the Prophet’s stamp. Abdullah’s royal Hashemite family claims ancestry to Islam’s Prophet Mohammad.
Abdullah’s Royal Hashemite Court said in a statement, which implicitly referred to ISIS, that the Jordanian flag “conveys a message to the nation, the generations and the entire humanity of all its religions and identities, a message of peace, love, tolerance, justice, refined manners and coexistence”.
It said the message was “in the face of those Khawarij (violent dissidents from the community), who falsely claim they are defending Islam, while Islam condemns them”.
The Hashemite flag’s colours and motifs combine elements of history, legitimacy, religion and Arabism found in the Hashemite family and the Great Arab Revolt of 1916 launched by Abdullah’s great-grandfather to end the Ottoman rule in the region.
The Royal Court’s statement said the flag has been the banner of the Hashemite family for centuries. With its original dark red pattern, the banner was first hoisted in 1515 and raised again in 1920 as a Hashemite prince led his soldiers to the southern Jordanian city of Maan during the Great Arab Revolt.
The flag was used as the revolt’s official emblem under the leadership of Abdullah’s great-grandfather, Sharif Hussein Bin Ali, until a new one was adopted years later.
Religious symbols on the flag include an inscription of the Shahadatain, Arabic for the two Islamic testimonies that there is no “God but Allah” and “Mohammad is His Messenger”.
Additionally, the flag has the Basmala, which is the phrase “in the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful” and is the first verse of the Quran. A seven-head-star on the flag’s right side is an Islamic art symbol that refers to the first chapter of the Quran.
The flag was introduced at a national celebration on June 9th, commemorating Abdullah’s 16th coronation anniversary and Army Day.
In the celebration at the Husseiniyeh Palace in the suburbs of Amman, three army soldiers wore red-and-white chequered kaffiyeh upside down, which in tribal Bedouin tradition signals plans to avenge the pilot’s slaying by ISIS. Before the king’s arrival, the flag was displayed in the courtyard on one of the oldest military vehicles used during the Great Arab Revolt and the two world wars. The vehicle was escorted on both sides by camel army riders as Air Force jets flew overhead.