Coptic flag

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FIAV 111110.svg Flag ratio: 2:3

The Coptic flag was created in 2005 by Coptic activists in different countries to represent Coptic communities both in Egypt and in the diaspora. It is not recognized by the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, but many Copts worldwide have adopted it as a symbol of Coptic identity. The Coptic flag has been officially recognized and adopted by the New Zealand Coptic Association [1] and the Free Copts.[2]

Background[edit]

Copts voice opposition to many aspects of Egypt's political life. One of these is the present-day Egyptian flag, which many Copts feel does not represent their community (though some Muslim Egyptians appear to have voiced similar concerns). The pattern closely resembles those of other Arabic-speaking countries, a symbol of Arab nationalism rejected by many Copts (and many Egyptians in general), along with the official title of the country "Arab Republic of Egypt", as if to distinguish between an Arab Egypt and one that is not (see also Egypt#Identity). In this respect, taking into consideration that Copts are especially likely not to consider themselves Arab, the current Egyptian flag alienates the Egyptian Christian minority in its homeland.

The Coptic flag arose from the conviction that any group has a right to represent itself through an emblem or a flag in its larger society and the world. It is in line with examples such as the emblem of the Muslim Brotherhood (two swords surrounding the Koran), and the flag of the Lebanese phalanges (a red circle surrounding a green cedar tree). Other examples include the flag of the Lebanese Hezbollah and the flag of the Assyrian minority, which flies side by side with the Iraqi national flag at Assyrian churches.

Nevertheless, in view of the Copts' Egyptian patriotism and their attachment to their country, and from the standpoint of respecting the opinion of other Egyptians, Coptic or Muslim, who might consider the national flag representative, Copts continue to call upon respecting the current flag of Egypt. The Coptic flag came about as a compromise; one that represents the Copts and highlights their non-Arab, non-Muslim identity. Some Copts have begun using the new flag alongside the official Egyptian flag. These Copts view it as a way to reconcile their pride in their Coptic identity with their allegiance and strong attachment to Egypt, as well as with their desire for peaceful coexistence with their compatriots.

Symbolism[edit]

The Coptic Coat of Arms

The Coptic Flag consists of two main components: a blue cross and a colorful coat of arms.

  • The cross represents Christianity, the Copts' religion. The blue color stems from the Egyptian sky and water. It also reminds the Copts of their persecution, when some of Muslim rulers forced their ancestors to wear heavy crosses around their necks until their neck bones became blue.[3][4]
  • The top of the coat of arms is decorated with Coptic crosses intertwined with lotus flowers, representing Egyptian identity. Coptic crosses are made of four arms equal in length, each of which is crossed by a shorter arm (a form of the heraldic "Cross Crosslet"). They are different from the Latin cross that possesses three short arms and a longer arm. The lotus flower, also known as the Egyptian White Water Lily Nymphaea lotus, is one of ancient Egypt's most highly regarded flowers. It used to represent creation and resurrection, for it disappears under water after sunset, then resurfaces and blooms at dawn. An ancient Egyptian creation myth states that the first thing to have been born from the watery chaos of the beginning of time was a giant lotus flower, which, on the first day of creation, gave birth to the sun.

The black background behind the ornaments is a symbol of Kimi or Kemet, the Egyptian name of Egypt, which means the Black Land. Ancient Egyptians gave their country this name since the waters of the Nile used to bring black soil during the inundation season and deposit it on the banks of the Nile, thus fertilizing them. The contrast between the yellow and the black is a symbol of the Copts' Christian faith and Egyptian identity that still shine amid the darkness of the persecution they have been suffering over the centuries. Beneath these ornaments is a green line in the middle of the coat of arms, which represents the Nile Valley. Around it are two yellow lines that symbolize the Eastern and Western Deserts of Egypt. These two lines are in turn flanked by two blue lines that represent the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea that enclose Egypt. Finally, these lines are separated by red lines symbolizing Coptic blood, which has been shed all over Egypt since Egyptians adopted Christianity and until today.

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ New Zealand Coptic Association
  2. ^ The Free Copts
  3. ^ My Coptic Church - Ask A Copt
  4. ^ El-Shamy, Hasan M. Folktales of Egypt. 406 p. 1980 Series: (FW) Folktales of the World ISBN 978-0-226-20625-7 (ISBN 0-226-20625-4)