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Tuesday, August 30, 2011


The rebels under the leadership of the National Transitional Council of Libya is all set to over throw the Gaddafi regime. As a result of the 2011 Libyan Civil war, there are currently two governments claiming to be the de jure government of Libya. One government is led by Muammar al-Gaddafi and the General People’s Committee, and the other is the National Transitional Council. 
The National Transitional Council, formed on 27 February 2011, adopted the flag previously used in ‘Kingdom of Libya’ between 1951 and 1969 as the "flag of the Libyan Republic". The capital town Tripoli is already dressed overall with red over black over green tricolours of the old Kingdom. The  tricolour is once again flying everywhere – on streets, windows, cars and even on people’s faces. It appears, as if, there are no other flags in Libya. The Arab League on 27 August 2011 approved the Libyan rebels’ flag as the new National flag of Libya, replacing the one used by Muammar Gaddafi at the extra-ordinary meeting of Arab foreign ministers under the chairmanship of HE Youssef Bin Alawi, Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs in Cairo.
 Originally part of the Turkish Empire, Libya was ceded to Italy. From 1912 to 1927, the territory of Libya was known as Italian North Africa. From 1927 to 1934, the territory was split into two colonies -  Italian Cyrenaica and Italian Tripolitania, run by Italian governors.  In 1934, Italy adopted the name "Libya" after the historical name for Northwest Africa, from Greek Λιβύη (Libúē ) and the Tricolour of Italian Kingdom became the flag of Italian occupied Libya. During World War II, ‘Italian Libya’ was occupied by France and the United Kingdom.
The Libyan tricolour was originally adopted when United Kingdom of Libya was established in accordance with a United Nations Resolution on 24th December 1951. It united Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzen under the Amir of Cyrenaica who became King Idris. The flag of the Kingdom had three horizontal stripes; the pattern as a whole was in conformity with the popular Pan Arab Renaissance colours. The three parts of the flag were also said to represent the three parts of the country. The width of the black stripe was equal to that of the red and green combined. As a matter fact, the original flag of the Amir of Cyrenaica was black with a white crown in the hoist and white star and crescent in the centre.
On 1st September 1969, the regime was overthrown, the King deposed and the new Libyan Arab Republic was proclaimed by the military government under Col. Gaddafi. On 7th November 1969 the old flags were superseded by one which is basically similar to that of other ‘liberated’ Arab countries often referred to as ‘Nasserite’ colours that is ‘red over white over black’ horizontal tricolour, introduced by President Nasser of Egypt, but with no stars in the centre.
On 1st January 1972, Libya entered the Federation of Arab Republics, along with Syria and Egypt, when a common flag of red over white over black charged with an almost identical ‘coat of arms’  was adopted. 
 Libya however, left the Federation in 1977 and adopted an all Green flag, when the ‘Jamahiriya’ or Commonwealth was formed styled as the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahirya (al-Jamahariya al-Arabiya al-Libya al-Shabiya al-Ishtirakiya al-Uzma). The plain green flag of Libya is happened to be the only monochromatic National flag of the world. The green is perceived as the colour of Islam, the traditional colour of the Fatimid dynasty of the caliphs, which ruled in North Africa from AD 909 to 1171 and also a manifestation of the ‘Green Revolution’ proclaimed by Col. Gaddafi.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Egyptian National Flags on Postage Stamps

After completion of  very successful Philatelic exhibition in Cairo on Rabindranth Tagore held in commemoration of his 150 years of birth, I have come back to Kolkata and now once again geared up to resume my blog which was in dormant for quite some time. The exhibition in Cairo was greatly publicised by all the news papers in Cairo. I am prompted to reproduce here at least one from the Egyptian Gazette of Saturday, July 9, 2011 just a day after the biggest rally when hundreds of thousands of Egyptians staged one of their biggest demonstrations in Cairo at Tahrir Square on 8th July to demand swift justice for victims of the former regime.
In Metro Rail with the demonstators on their way to 
Tahrir Square.
At Tahrir Square on 8th July 2011
Page six of the Egyptian Gazette , Cairo of the same date
  Let me now discuss about the Egyptian National Flag to the best of my ability and knowledge. I shall be glad if anybody correct me where I have gone wrong.
 Egypt had a number of National flags. Under the Turkish rule Egypt’s flag was ‘Red and bore three Crescents, each with a five pointed star within its horns, all in white’. The flag was in vogue from 1914 to 1922.
 On becoming an independent kingdom in 1922, Egypt changed her flag to ‘Green with one white Crescent’. The flag remained its National status till 1958.
 King Farouk had no less than four Royal standards; the one that resembled the National Flag, but had a small ‘Royal Crown’ in colour in the upper left-hand corner.
 King Farouk raising Egyptian Flag over Kasr-el-Barracks after British withdrawal from the Nile delta.

With the abolition of Monarchy, after the revolution of 1952, the ‘Red-White-Black’ of three equal horizontal stripes was introduced in Egypt. The colours symbolized the period of oppression (black) over come through bloody struggle (red) to be replaced by a bright future(white). This flag , considered by many as the second generation of ‘Pan-Arab colours’. The colours  became the inspiration for the flags of many other Arab Nations which chose the republican political system. The symbolism was explained by poet Safi al-Din-al-Hili as:

“White are our deeds, black are our battles,

Green are our fields, red are our knives”.
The National Flag of United Arab Republic (1958-1961) and Egypt (1961-1973)
The central white stripe was charged with two ‘Green Stars’ in 1958 with the formation of the United Arab Republic (UAR) with Syria.
 Second anniversary of the proclamation of the UAR, 1960
 In 1984 Egypt withdrew from the Federation of Arab Republic founded in 1971 by Egypt, Libya and Syria. The Federation was virtually became inactive since Egypt broke off diplomatic relations with Libya in 1973, on the other hand Syria broke off diplomatic relations with Egypt after ‘1979 Peace Treaty’ with Israel signed by President Anwar Sadat. 
 20th anniversary of revolution, 1972
 Egypt also replaced the ‘Qureish Falcon’ named after the tribe of Prophet Mohammed and introduced by Gamal Abdel Nasser by the ‘Eagle of Saladin’ on Egypt’s national emblem. Saladin was the Sultan of Egypt and Syria who in 1187 had defeated the Christians, near Tiberas and conquered Jerusalem, sparking the third Crusade.