African HistoryEgyptNorth Africa
The Symbolism of a Century of Egyptian Flags
Egypt’s identity is constantly changing; its streets are a jigsaw of many crowds, and its name appears differently in every language.
Egypt’s development over the years has been visually documented by its flags as it transitioned from monarchies to modernism.
Egyptian flags are an obvious symbol of Egypt’s sociopolitical and cultural tendencies, and they are always changing to reflect the country’s current ideology.
The Symbolism of a Century of Egyptian Flags
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When Egypt was still a part of the faltering Ottoman empire during the Mohamed Ali Dynasty, the first Egyptian flag was first displayed (i.e. Egypt Eyalet).
But because it was a Khedivate, Mohammed Ali and his successors had essentially unrestricted power.
They all operated under a variety of flags with crimson backgrounds and alternating numbers of stars and crescents, all with Ottoman influences.
The suggested meanings vary. According to some academics, the three stars and crescents represented Ottoman triumphs in Asia, Africa, and Europe.
Others contend that the predominance of the number three signifies Muhammad Ali’s rule over Egypt, the Sudan, and al-Hegaz.
Islamic imagery is thought to be the source of the crescent, which continues to be a nod to Islam’s usage of the lunar calendar.
After the Ottomans withdrew from Egyptian politics in 1914, the flag continued to be flown; from that point forward, Egypt was regarded as a sultanate and a protectorate of Great Britain.
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REPUBLIC OF EGYPT
By 1922, the United Kingdom had left Egypt as well, legally acknowledging it as a sovereign nation under the condition that the monarchy desist from using terms associated with the sultanate.
Instead, Fouad I was forced to change his title from Sultan to King. As a result, he also changed the country’s flag.
King Fouad I chose an organic, lush green instead of Ottoman reds (due to Egypt’s agricultural nature), although he kept the crescent-star ornamentation.
But the pictures’ underlying meaning was also altered. Instead, three stars were created as a representation of the Kingdom’s three legs: Egypt, Nubia, and Sudan.
King Fouad I maintained the crescent in a similar vein as a tribute to Egypt’s predominately Muslim populace.
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THE 1952 COUP D’ÉTAT
Gamal Abd el-Nasser overthrew the monarchy in a coup d’état that developed into a revolution in the summer of 1952.
He adds a new set of emblems to his new pan-Arab Egypt along with the backing of the Free Officers party.
Although King Farouk I’s flag persisted for a while after his overthrow, a new national flag that predated the one used in contemporary Egypt was finally raised.
The flag, which was red, white, and black across the top, included an Egyptian falcon—not to be mistaken with Egypt’s subsequent adaptation of an eagle—as a nod to the ancient god Horus.
Each color served as a tribute to Egyptianism at the time; red symbolized the blood spilt during Egypt’s battle against colonialism, white the innocence of the Egyptian heart, and black the need to overcome the dark ages.
The flag of Abd el-Nasser, also known as the Egyptian “Revolutionary and Liberation” banner, served as an inspiration for a number of Arab flags, including those of Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and Sudan.
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UNION OF ARAB REPUBLIC OF EGYPT AND SYRIA
Similar to the flags that came before it, the unity of Syria and Egypt was ephemeral and represented using the same methods as before; the two stars represent both states and are the focal point of their battle for stability in the midst of conflict.
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THE EGYPTIAN ARAB REPUBLIC
Egypt’s national flag is last, maybe for the foreseeable future. It was first proposed by President Anwar al-Sadat in 1974, and it is reminiscent of the idea that Gamal Abd el-Nasser first realized.
However, Saladin’s Eagle of Saladin, which is entirely made of gold, was substituted for Horus as the primary symbol.