The Story Behind That Huge Palestinian Flag at Ottawa’s Gaza DemonstrationWritten by Chelby Daigle
Did you see the Palestinian flag going down the street?
On Saturday July 12th, over a thousand demonstrators gathered on Parliament Hill condemning the bombing of civilians in Gaza by the Israeli military.
The highlight of the event was the 66 meter Palestinian flag which demonstrators carried through the city streets on their way to Parliament Hill.
The flag was brought to Ottawa by 42 year old Palestinian Canadian Tarek Taha, aka Flag Man.
Tarek is involved with DIVERSITY, SOCIAL TRANSPARENCE, TOLERANCE (DSTT), a Montreal organization which was founded in September 2013 by a group of Palestinian Canadians who, according to the group’s Facebook Page, “wanted to create a forum for discussion and fruitful meetings in their community in order to facilitate their integration into Québec and Canadian society.”
The group had the idea of creating the largest Palestinian flag in history. “We wanted to break the world record,” Tarek stated. They also wanted to break the world record for the number of signatures on a Palestinian flag which they were able to do by getting 35 thousand signatures.
According to Tarek, the symbolic meaning behind the flag is that the Palestinian people have a right to live in peace with dignity and respect. But the flag is also a symbol of the presence of a large and vibrant Palestinian community in Canada. “The Palestinian community in Canada are involved directly in the daily life of Canadian society, so it is a message of integration with in the Canadian society,” Tarek explained.
Demonstrators walking to Parliament with the flag. Courtesy of Tarek Taha.
But it costs money to make a 66 meter flag and although the organizers really wanted to buy Canadian, it was just too expensive. “We had many options to do it but finally we did it in China since this was the cheapest way. Here in Canada they asked us for 16000 dollars!” he stated. Funds for the flag were raised through crowd-funding on Indigogo and from business sponsorships.
And how do you transport a 66 meter flag? “We usually rent a car. It’s around 36 kg,” he explained.
Tarek was proud to see the flag brought to Parliament Hill. “I think it’s the first time in history we can display a huge flag at the Canadian parliament,” he stated.
He was also moved by the diversity of the demonstrators who came out to show their support for the people of Gaza. “It was great, a lot of people from various different backgrounds. It really was a great day for peace in Palestine,” he stated. Tarek is hopeful that “inshallah” Palestinians and Israelis will be able to live in peace, which for him means “stability, justice, respect, dignity, real justice.”
And where is the flag headed next? The West Bank!
In September, a delegation from DSTT will be traveling from Canada to Ramallah.
“We will post it at the Yasser Arafat monument in the presence of the Canadian embassy,” Tarek explained.
Palestinian Flag in front of the Parliament Buildings. Courtesy of Tarek Taha.
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