Turkish Flag – its History & Meaning for Patriotic Turks

The Turkish flag is the best symbol to describe the relationship of the Turks to their country.

The flag is an integral part of everyday life.

It doesn’t matter where you go in Turkey, the flag will accompany you everywhere

It doesn’t matter if you are on the border with Greece or Iran. You can go to the beach in Antalya or climb to the top of the 5,137 meter high Ararat. The flag will be waiting for you.

You go over an abandoned bridge in the middle of the forest, the Turkish flag hangs on it. You walk through downtown Istanbul and you will see flags on almost every street corner!

The flag in Cappadocia

Dozens of them hang at every gas station in the country. We suspect that the petrol station operators think that more flags = more customers.

There is no other way to explain the abundance of flags at the petrol pumps.

In eastern Turkey, it has even been recreated from stones a few hundred meters across on a mountainside.

On the stern of a boat

Why do Turks carry their flag with such pride?

A good question. For that you need to know a little more about the end of the Ottoman Empire and the years that followed.

After the end of World War I, the former proud empire was destroyed. It was Mustafa Kemal Ataturk who, in the years that followed, formed the state now known as Turkey. It wasn’t bloodless.

The emergence of the Turkish Republic and the boom that followed was a kind of new beginning for the country.

Today’s Turkish flag dates from this period.

Among other things, it stands for the hardships that the young Turkish state had to go through after the First World War. 

At the same time, it represents the rise that the country experienced under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in the years that followed.

Flag hosted in public buildings like the Istanbul University

Origins in the Ottoman Empire

The Turkish flag’s origin differs depending on the viewpoint. 

It has clearly recognizable similarities with the flag of the Ottoman Empire. Both the new and the old flags have the crescent and the star. But that is not surprising as they are also symbols of Islam.

The original Ottoman flag also had green as its primary color, which is the color of Islam. There are only guesses as to how the red color came about later.

Some think that the red flag symbolizes a bloody battlefield with the moon reflected in the pool of blood and the stars looking down.

However the design came to be, one thing is for sure, it commands the greatest respect among the residents of Turkey along with its founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

A typical picture in front of a gas station in Turkey. Dozens of flags hang from lines.

Don’t soil the flag!

Proud Turks see their flags almost as a kind of religious symbol. If you insult the Turkish flag or Atatürk in any way, you will get into trouble very quickly. The Turks don’t find it funny at all.

In the best-case scenario, you can get away with a hefty fine or be expelled from Turkey. In the worst case, “dirtying” the flag can be punished with imprisonment.

People with Turkish flags on the republic day of Turkey

Even the condition of flags is monitored. There are penalties for using dirty, faded, holed, or tattered flags.

Every public building must carry a flag. The hauling in and setting must be done with a ceremony.

Incidentally, it must not be on or attached to any clothing. Which explains why there are no bikinis, swimming trunks or t-shirts with the flag on them.

Leave a Comment