The flag of Turkey consists of a red rectangle with a white star and crescent. Similar flags can be found in Muslim majority countries such as Malaysia and Pakistan. This flag is known as al bayrak, the red flag, and is also referred to as al sancak, the red banner, in the national anthem of Turkey. This flag has derived from the emblem of the Ottoman Empire which was an Islamic Caliphate that ruled much of the Middle East for over 600 years and was based in Turkey. The original incarnation of this flag was adopted in the late 1700s and the design seen today was created in 1844. Although the al bayrak flag had been flown by Turkey for over 80 years, it only became the official symbol of the country on 5 June 1936.

The flag of Turkey is one of the few in the world that has remained somewhat untouched after the fall of a dominant empire. After World War I, Turkish citizens used the same flag they had fought the Allied troops under but re-appropriated the meaning of the flag. The star became the symbol for the Turkish nation, and the crescent remained symbolic of Islam in the country. The red in the flag of Turkey represents the blood that was spilt by martyrs who either fought during World War I or fought for the independence and modernisation of the Turkish nation.

The flag of Turkey has undergone several revisions since the original gold crescent on a red background design from 1453 by Sultan Murad II. The star was added to the crescent to create the state symbol as early as 1757 under the reign of Sultan Mufasa III and became a well-used symbolic representation under the reigns of Sultan Abdul Hamid and Sultan Selim III. Scholars maintain the existence of the al bayrak flag with white star and crescent as far back as 1793, so it is difficult to determine the exact designer of the flag of Turkey.

Previous flags of the nation have included a plain red triangle, a golden crescent on a red triangle, and a flag that has a red background with a green oval in the middle which is housing three golden crescents. As far back as the year 330 AD when Emperor Constantine renamed the city of Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) to dedicate it to the Virgin Mary. Her star symbol was added to the crescent, pre-dating Islam, giving the symbols historical meaning in Turkish society before the Ottoman Empire.

This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018

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