Since a couple of days, The Dutch embassy in Beirut has stopped flying its flag. (See pic of two lonely flagpoles, full story at my company, GPD newspapers).
And just to avoid any confusion: The white flag on the picture is NOT flying from the embassy but from a nearby streetlight and it is NOT the Dutch one, but the flag of the Lebanese Forces, a christian political party in Lebanon.
Of course I called the embassy: No official response.
Then a phone call to the Ministry of Foreign affairs in The Hague, Holland.
Question: There's no flag in front of the embassy in Beirut?
Answer by spokeswoman: "This is because the embassy wants to keep a lower profile."
A: "Well, this is up to any individual embassy."
Q: Ok, but why?
A: "As you probably know, the embassy was closed last week for two days."
A: "I want to make it very clear: It has nothing, and I repeat, nothing to do with the upcoming Wilders-movie."
Q: Nobody is going to believe that...
A: "But it is true. It really has nothing to do with Wilders but with Lebanon's internal situation."
So far the Dutch Ministry of Foreign affairs in The Hague. But harryzzz wanted to know if there were more Dutch embassies in the Middle East without flags.
So I made a few phone calls.
First, Damascus, Syria.
A friendly voice says: "I'll pass you on to the ambassador."
Ambassador, a very simple question: Is there a Dutch flag flying in front of your embassy?
Dutch ambassador to Syria: "Oh yes, flag is flying."
The Wilders movie might come out soon, what do you expect?
"I thought you only wanted to ask a question about the flag?"
Yes, that is true. Thank you.
Then the Dutch embassy in Tehran, Iran:
Press office please...
Some Dutch employee: "If the flag is flying? I can not say anything about this."
But if you look outside, do you see a flag?
"I can not answer that question. Only the ministry in The Hague can."
Last but for sure not least, the Dutch embassy in Pakistan.
"Hello, here Islamabad."
Flag or no flag?
Friendly staff member: "I'm working at the backside of the building. Can't see it."
"Wait...just walked to the front. I can say that the Chancellery is flying the flag."
That leaves Denmark the only other country not flying a flag from their Beirut embassy. Remember the cartoon-rage? Well, in February 2006 the Danish consulate here was attacked and partly burnt down by a mob. Since then the Danish consulate was upgraded to an embassy while they have moved it to another location (close to Place Sassine). If you don't know exactly where it is, you'll have difficulties finding it, because - indeed - there's no flag flying outside.