Human Flower Project
Flowers Declare Peace—Too Soon
Baghdad’s first flower festival, which opened this week, was supposed to send a message of peace and safety to the world.
Two girls got in the spirit of Iraq’s first international flower festival Wednesday in Zawra Park, Baghdad
“Mission accomplished”? –okay, if that means getting some downtown flower beds planted with annuals, coaxing several foreign landscape designers to participate, and capturing happy photos of children and snapdragons.
The City of Baghdad opened a weeklong municipal flower show Wednesday of this week in Zawra Park, right downtown. And for a city decimated by more than six years of war, these are respectable missions. But planners had hoped for considerably more.
“We want to send a message that Iraq is a country that is interested in love and peace,” Hakim Abdel Zahra, a spokesman for the city council told AFP. “The time of violence and fear is over now.”
In this respect, Baghdad’s floral public relations effort has been about as convincing as George W. Bush’s address aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, May 1, 2003. As Bush declared victory in Iraq, the infamous banner was unfurled across the aircraft carrier.
Designers composed the Iraqi presidential emblem in flowers for the nation’s first
flower festival; the event was intended to symbolize a new, peaceful era in Iraq.
According to the report in Xinhua, the Iraq flower show hung out a hyperbole of its own. “A flower from Baghdad is a message of love to the people all over the world,” it read.
This has been an especially murderous week in Iraq. On the day the flower show opened, 11 Iraqi policemen were killed and 23 others were injured by a car bomb in Kirkuk; the following day in Habbabiya, 40 miles west of the capital, a suicide bomber killed 16 soldiers gathering for lunch and 50 more people were injured. On Friday, four people were killed by mortar rounds in West Baghdad and eight more wounded.
Children danced Wednesday at the opening of Baghdad’s first flower festival;
on Saturday the Green Zone was shelled for the first time in three months.
And today, Saturday, the “Green Zone” itself was shelled. The U.S. and British embassies and many Iraqi government offices are located in this “protected” area. So is Zawra Park.
“The festival is the reflection of people’s desirability to heal the trauma of war and to pursue the lasting peace of the war shattered homeland,” said a young mother.
“Colorful flowers give us a hope of peace in the heart and a boosting of confidence of beautiful life in the future,” said a retired professor of Baghdad University. Can a flower accomplish all that, or any part of it?