The Republic of Tunisia officially adopted its flag in 1959. The flag originated from the naval ensign of the Kingdom of Tunis, and was designed in 1831 by Al-Husayn II ibn Mahmud, who was the Bey of Tunis from 1824 until 1835. As a former part of the Ottoman Empire, the Tunisian flag exhibits similarities to the Ottoman flag.
Description of the Flag of Tunisia
As defined in the June 1, 1959 constitution, the flag is a red field that features a crescent surrounding a star with five points within a white disk at the center of the flag. The flag is rectangular in shape and has width to length proportions of 2:3. The diameter of the white disk is one-third the rectangle’s length, and the points of the star hat are equally spaced from each other. The red crescent is made up to two intersecting arcs and surrounds the star on its left. The outer arc is 25% of the flag’s length, while the inner arc is 20% of the flag’s length. Article 4 of the constitution specifies the appropriate measurements, specifications and colors of the flag.
The flag has two colors, red and white, although red occupies a much greater proportion of the flag. The red color on the flag symbolizes Islam, which is the predominant religion in Tunisia. Red also represents resistance against Turkish dominance and the blood shed by martyrs killed in 1881 when Tunisia was conquered by France. The red crescent is a traditional indication of Islam and also serves as a sign of good luck in Arabic culture, as well as representing the unity of all Muslims. The white color symbolizes peace, whereas the white disk represents the sun. The star, like the crescent, is an ancient symbol of the Islamic religion, and the star’s five points symbolize the Five Pillars of Islam: faith, prayer, charity, fasting, and the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.
Previous Flags of Tunisia
In the 18th century, most of Tunisia's maritime flags featured a crescent oriented shape with blue, red, green and white colors. When Tunisia was part of the Ottoman Empire, its naval ensign had blue, green and red horizontal stripes. The Bey of Tunis also had a flag in the 19th century, which was used in public celebrations and appeared on Tunisia's coat of arms. The flag was rectangular in shape and included nine stripes alternating between yellow and red, while the middle line was green. As a French Protectorate, Tunisia's flag featured a small French flag in the upper left corner. This flag was used from 1943 until 1956. Before the current design, the national flag, which was used between 1959 and 1999, was Tunisia’s naval ensign which had a slightly narrower crescent.
The Flag’s Protocol
The flag of the Republic of Tunisia flies on all military installations and public buildings. It also flies on the country’s embassies and consulates in different parts of the world. Tunisian law mandates flying the flag on all public buildings on seven stipulated Flag Days, which include Independence Day (March 20), Martyr’s Day (April 9), and Republic Day (July 25). Insults directed at the flag of Tunisia are punishable by a one-year imprisonment.