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Burning Iranian Flags During the Hostage Crisis

Arash Norouzi

The Mossadegh Project | February 4, 2019                    

“People want to use them as welcome mats, and when they get good and dirty burn them.” — Michigan retailer Charlotte Allman, quoted in A banner time for flags — They’re hard to find during Iran crisis | The Battle Creek Enquirer, Dec. 9, 1979

Univ. of Chicago students burn the Iranian flag

1979 was a banner year for flag waving and burning. The Iranian revolution and the consequent seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran inflamed passions across the world, leading to fervent, inventive ways of rallying around the flag. But with Iranian flags suddenly “hot” items, there was an upside for flag sellers, at least. And yellow-ribbon merchants.

Univ. of Chicago students burn the Iranian flag

Ironically, the irate American dissenters seeking catharsis over the hostage ordeal were actually burning the traditional, pre-revolutionary Iranian flag. The Shir-o-Khorshid (Lion and Sun) flag they were purchasing was most recently identified with the Persian monarchy, i.e. the U.S.-backed Shah. The Islamic Republic banished the traditional design, and ever since, use of the former flag has come to symbolize opposition to the theocratic regime.

November 18, 1979
United Press International

Merchants Report Iranian Flags Now Very ‘Hot’ Items

DETROIT, Nov. 18 (UPI) — Requests for Iranian flags are up and local flag dealers report they are unable to meet the rising demand.

Dealers said they are receiving 8 to 10 calls daily for the green, white and red Iranian flags — probably to burn.

“We have the small desk-size flag, but they’re interested in the larger ones and we just don’t keep them in stock,” said William Miles, owner of the Detroit Flag Co.

Miles said the callers want the 3-by-5 foot flag which sells for $23.50 and most want cotton ones — not nylon.

“I probably would have sold them a flag if I had one in stock but I would have made it hard on them,” Miles said. “I don’t think burning it is right.”

Demonstrators in Detroit and elsewhere have burned Iranian flags to protest the holding of American hostages in the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

Flag dealer Beverly Dackza of suburban Ferndale said she has received “an unusual amount of calls but I haven’t taken any orders and I don’t intend to.”

“I wouldn’t want to see any of the flags burned,” she said.

Alternate headlines:

Merchants Report Iranian Flags Now Very ‘Hot’ Items
Iranian flags are ‘hot’ items
Iranian flags are popular
Let’s run it up the pole and see if it burns
Demand for Iran Flags Is Reported Up in U.S. (New York Times)


Related links:

Won’t Get Fooled Again? — The Who concert tragedy and Iran hostage crisis (Dec. 1979)

Protestors Say Violence Shows Depth of Hatred Against Shah (UPI, Nov. 18, 1977)

Iran hostage crisis “not their fault”, wrotes Cal Poly SLO student | Nov. 30, 1979

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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