First Published: 2011-02-22


Libya's monarchist flag: a symbol of anti-Gathafi protest


Monarchist flag has become one of symbols of opposition to embattled Libyan leader's rule.


Middle East Online


TRIPOLI - The Libyan monarchist flag, raised on Tuesday at the country's embassy in Stockholm, dates from before the iron-fisted rule of Moamer Gathafi and has become one of the symbols of opposition to the embattled leader's rule.

Consisting of a white crescent and star on a horizontal red, black and green triband -- with the central black band twice the width of the outer bands --- the flag was adopted when Libya became independent on December 24, 1951 with King Mohammed Idriss al-Senussi as its head of state.

Today, the flag is still used by monarchists and the Libyan opposition abroad and, during the recent unrest, has been displayed at anti-Gathafi protests at embassies from Stockholm to Belgrade.

Before being adopted across Libya in 1951, the monarchist flag was already that of the eastern region of Cyrenaica from December 1950. Cyrenaica's main city, Benghazi, has led the revolt against Gathafi.

The flag of Cyrenaica was inspired by that of the Ottoman Empire to which it and the province of Tripoli belonged from 1551 to 1912, before being ceded to Italy, which unified the country in 1934.

It flew until being replaced in 1969 following the Libyan Revolution by three of the pan-Arab colours -- red, white and black, but without the fourth colour green.

In 1972, when Libya joined the Federation of Arab Republics, the federation's flag was adopted, featuring a golden hawk holding a scroll with the Arabic name of the federation.

As a sign of protest at the trip by former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat to Jerusalem, and to mark a split with the country, Gathafi in 1977 adopted a new flag, consisting of a green field. It is the only national flag in the world with just one colour and no other details.

The green is meant to symbolise the people's devotion to Islam.


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