Sunday, October 05, 2003

Iraq unveiled its new banknotes on Saturday with pictures of an ancient Babylonian ruler and a 10th century Iraqi mathematician in place of the smiling face of Saddam Hussein.

The Babylonian ruler Hammurabi, credited with creating the first written code of laws in human history, graces the new pink 25,000 dinar note, worth about $12. The other side shows a smiling Kurdish farm worker holding a sheaf of wheat.

Astronomer and mathematician Abu Ali al-Hasan ibn al-Haytham, born in Basra in 965 and known as Alhazen to medieval scholars in the West, is on one side of the 10,000 note, the only other human figure on the new notes.

Other bills show a waterfall in northern Iraq, date palms and Islamic monuments. One has a picture of a wheat silo...

Iraqis have three months from October 15 to exchange their old bills at 250 bank branches across the country, at a rate of one new dinar to one Saddam dinar and 150 new dinars for each Swiss dinar.

The U.S-led administration in Iraq has ordered all images of Saddam to be removed from monuments, murals and school textbooks. But in the months following the war it was forced to print billions of dinars of banknotes bearing the face of Saddam, to ease a shortage of low-denomination banknotes.

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