UKLFI: Supporting Israel with legal skills

Politics and Tartans don’t mix

A tartan called the “Spirit of Palestine”, described as highlighting the Palestinian Struggle, has been registered in Scotland, even though tartans are not allowed to be political.

UKLFI has written to the Keeper of the Scottish Register of Tartans to point out that the “Spirit of Palestine” tartan, which was registered in April this year, fails to comply with the Guidance for the registration of tartans .

The Guidance states that Tartan names cannot be used as a means of promoting political statements or to represent political campaigns or ideology. However, the name, “The Spirit of Palestine”, appears to promote a political campaign on behalf of Palestinians.

When a tartan is registered, the owner has to submit a description of the rationale behind the tartan, including why the tartan was created, the reason for the name and the reason for the choice of colours. The guidance says that the wording included in the rationale should not include any political statements or be used as a means to promote any political campaigns or ideologies.

The description of the “Spirit of Palestine” tartan is full of political statements promoting the Palestinian ideology. It says that the tartan represents the “Palestinian Struggle” and explains that red is included symbolising “martyrdom” as well as black “to represent mourning for injustice and persecution”. Martyrs are a reference to terrorists who have been killed in the course of terrorism.

The tartan design is described as incorporating key symbols from the Palestinian flag and the Kufiya scarf. The Kufiya scarf is a well-known symbol of the Palestinian fight against Israel. During the British Mandate, especially during the 1936 Arab Revolt, Palestinian rebels used the Kufiyah to hide their identity to avoid arrest. The Kufiyah became a symbol of resistance and the “fight against occupation” and was further popularised by the late Yasser Arafat. Incorporating elements of the Kufiyah in the design thus promotes a political ideology.

The Guidance says that the name of the tartan must not include a country or place, or a district or a place name, unless the application is accompanied by a letter of authority from a prominent office-bearer in the appropriate body. UKLFI has made Freedom of Information request to see if the application was accompanied by a letter of authority from the Palestinian Authority.

The Guidance says that the preposition “of” has a specific meaning in Scots law indicating ownership of all the lands so described and it asks applicants not to use “of” in the tartan name unless they can demonstrate ownership of the lands so described.

The “Spirit of Palestine” title includes the word “of”. UKLFI has made a Freedom of Information request to find out if evidence of ownership of the land of Palestine was submitted in the application.

The designers of the tartan are listed on the register of tartans, probably erroneously, as Na’eem Raza and Mazhar Khan; while the registrant is listed as, which is the email address of the tartan designer, Ashleigh Slater, who trades as “Tartan Caledonia”. The tartan’s website says that the designer was Ashleigh Slater.

Caroline Turner, director of UKLFI commented: “It seems that Palestinian activists have no qualms about appropriating Scottish culture in order to further their political ends. I hope that the Keeper of the Scottish Register will enforce their rules regarding mixing politics with tartans, and will remove this politicised tartan from the Register.”

We are grateful to Stanley Grossman for drawing this matter to our attention.