Iraqi government proposes October 3 National Day

'Celebration of Iraqi identity' will be coincide with country's independence day if parliament approves proposal

Iraq's Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi, mask-clad due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, looks on during a joint press conference with the French president in Baghdad on September 2, 2020. French President Emmanuel Macron landed in Baghdad on his first official trip to Iraq, where he hopes to help the country reassert its "sovereignty" after years of conflict. / AFP / POOL / GONZALO FUENTES
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The Iraqi government has proposed restoring Iraqi National Day for the first time since the US-led invasion of 2003.

The proposal would see the occasion marked on October 3, the day already observed in Iraq for being when the country gained independence from Britain in 1932 and became the 57th member of the League of Nations.

“The cabinet designated October 3 of every year as Iraq’s National Day to celebrate and mark the independence of Iraq and the end of the British mandate on 03/10/1932,”  Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi’s office said.

Culture Minister Hassan Nazim discussed the idea of having the national day on the same day Iraq joined the League with the cabinet and members of Parliament, the ministry said.

"The importance of this day is due to the fact that it is an official and international recognition of the establishment of the Iraqi state, to be among the first Arabs to gain independence," the ministry said.

The National Day will be an "official holiday celebrated by Iraqis of various religions, sects and nationalities with their Iraqi identity," it said.

The cabinet agreed on the date and a draft bill will now have to be approved by Parliament in order for it to be ratified.

"Finally Iraq will have a national day and the public can celebrate because since 2003 we have not had a day to celebrate Iraq," Jaber Al Jaberi, a member of parliament, told The National.

Mr Al Jaberi said that prior to 2003 the National Day in Iraq was associated with intra-Iraq political changes – the overthrow of the monarchy and, later, the establishment of the Baath party.

"Before, the National Day was July 14 [the 1958 revolution]. Then the Baath party came to power, on July 17, 1968, so they celebrated both July 14 and 17 as a national day," Mr Al Jaberi said.

Neither date was observed after the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled longtime dictator and Baath party leader Saddam Hussein.

Mr Al Jaberi said Parliament would soon set a date for the first reading of the draft bill, with a second reading a week later to make any modifications, and then a third reading and a vote on the law. He said he expected the move to be approved.

Feisal Al Istrabadi, the first Iraqi ambassador to the UN after the 2003 invasion, said he had advocated for the country to observe National Day for the past 17 years.

“Hope it is codified by parliament. Never understood resistance to having Iraq’s formal independence be the National Day,” he said.