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Afghanistan

Afghanistan has been deemed the winner of "the most frequent flag changes in the twentieth century" contest. Interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai raised the country's new national flag on Tuesday, 5 February, 2002 in a colourful ceremony he said offered hope for a new era of peace and prosperity.

Religious, academic and political leaders joined Kabul's growing band of foreign diplomats outside the presidential palace in biting cold weather for the occasion. We Afghan people have had many problems but from now on we must take each other's hands in a brotherly way and rebuild our country Interim leader Hamid Karzai. An honour guard, complete with shining sabres, saluted Mr Karzai, who will lead the interim government until June, in Kabul's first day of pomp and ceremony for years. The flag has vertical bands of green, red and black with the legend "there is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his prophet". It is modified from the horizontal stripes of the king's standard that was introduced in 1928 and banned 50 years later after the Soviet-backed communist takeover. In the middle is the insignia in white of the "mehrab", the arch in the mosque where the prayer leader stands, and the "menber", a many-tiered pulpit, flanked by two flags and ensconced in two sheaves of wheat. The flag also bears the words "the interim government of Afghanistan". Prior to this there was a provisional version with the slogans (the shahada and Allahu Aqbar) in white letters on the green stripe and black letters on the white stripe. Older versions of the Afghanistan flag tend to linger on.

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