With the events of 2-11 still echoing in hearts and minds (and streets and protests in other Arab countries,) the nation is turning to the business of rebuilding. And the world is taking notice of Egypt: citizens bound by ideology stage a massive and (mostly) peaceful demonstration of hundreds of thousands, then achieve their regime-change objectives, and then come back the next day to help clean the square and the streets where they demonstrated. That’s an example of singular aims and national pride, eh?
But the next Egypt will also need rebranding. We’re all well aware of the nation-building tasks ahead: new government, new constitution, new systems and infrastructures, all leading to new elections this September. That’s plenty to chew on. But one thing I’m thinking of is the identity system: the Egyptian flag. What will IT become? And should it change?
After all, the current flag of Egypt is said to be symbolic of past revolutions. (There are slightly differing opinions on this: some say the red/white/black is simply an adoption of the pan-Arab colors; others argue that the symbolism has slightly different provenances.) The going intelligence is this:
The red stripe symbolizes the time before the 1952 revolution, when the Free Officers stormed the palace and peacefully ousted King Farouk. Although British occupation of Egypt had officially ended in 1936, the King was still a reminder of the old British oppression, as the monarchy was installed and monitored by Britain for nearly three decades. (Notice a theme?)
The white stripe symbolizes the peaceful nature of the revolution, when the monarchy was effectively abolished without bloodshed.
The black stripe is a combined reminder: the end of oppression by Britain and by a Monarchy acting under same.
There have been numerous incarnations of the middle symbol – it was once an eagle with a crescent and three stars, then a hawk, then back to an eagle, and so on. There has also been a version with two stars in the white field to represent the short-lived union of Egypt and Syria as the “United Arab Republic.”
But what about now?
If the Red, White and Black are symbols and reminders of revolution against oppression, surely the 2-11-11 liberation of Egypt by peaceful demonstration deserves lasting representation. It will be quite interesting to watch not only what develops on the flag of Egypt, but how it becomes adopted. My guess is it will be a refreshingly democratic process at work.
In the rendering above, I’ve shown a corner of the red stripe being pulled away and revealing a vibrant green. It could be that Egypt simply adopts a pan-Arab color, or perhaps it means something more: a verdant period ahead for a nation that is dutifully evolving by choice, and quietly leading by example.