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Malaysians apologize for suburban flag flap

Malaysian students wave their national flag during independence celebrations KualLumpur Friday. A Malaysian flag Northfield caused stir this weekend.

Malaysian students wave their national flag during independence celebrations in Kuala Lumpur on Friday. A Malaysian flag in Northfield caused a stir this weekend. | Lai Seng Sin~AP

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Updated: October 6, 2012 1:54PM

When members of the Malaysian Association of Illinois gathered at a Northfield park to celebrate their heritage, they didn’t set out to cause an international incident.

But when they lowered the American flag and ran up the colors of Malaysia, the scene was captured by the “conservativeBrand” blog, whose author decried it as a violation of U.S. flag etiquette.

The Malaysian Association of Illinois met before noon Saturday at Clarkson Park to celebrate the 55th anniversary of Malaysian independence.

Association member Dr. Roslan Jamaludin, who also serves as director of Education Malaysia Chicago, said the two groups celebrated by lowering the U.S. flag and raising the Malaysian flag on a flag pole in the park.

The Malaysian flag bears a striking resemblance to the American flag, but includes a crescent moon and a 14-point star on a field of blue, with red and white stripes.

The attendees sang the Malaysian national anthem and returned the U.S. flag to the pole shortly after.

“We apologize for the event,” Jamaludin said. “We did put the flag back up. It was not meant to offend anyone.”

Northfield Park District Director George Alexoff said the group has used the facility in the past and had all the proper permits for the weekend event. He said the park district has had no previoud issues with the group using the parks.

Alexoff said the park district always displays the American flag at their main facility at 401 Wagner Road and the pole across the street at Clarkson Park sometimes flies the U.S. flag. In winter months, the pole is used to fly red and green flags to let residents know if the facility is open.

“It’s the purpose of why that pole was put up there,” Alexoff said. “I definitely don’t think [their demonstration] was malicious.”

Jamaludin said the event was attended by more than 100 people, most of them Malaysian college students studying in the Midwest. As director of Education Malaysia Chicago, Jamaludin looks after these students as they attend school in the U.S.

“Because we are funding this event together, we want to get all of our students to celebrate these two events,” Jamaludin said. He noted that the group flew the Malaysian flag on Friday in Chicago’s Daley Plaza, a practice he says has been going on for a few years.

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