The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Inverting the flag

An interesting phenomenon indeed… The Egyptian bloggers are circulating inverted Egyptian flags on their websites and mailing lists.

The initiative was launched, it seems, shortly before the May 25 pro-judges demo, but it’s picking up now. Several blogs have posted the picture including:

-Wael 3abbass put the inverted flag on his front page of this week's issue of MisrDigital, with a caption: “Yes, we’ve inverted the flag, because the country is in a catastrophe. We will not correct it, till the country itself is corrected.�

-Al-Shawakish Qademoon, (the Hammers are Coming), the website of the “30th of February Organization-Retards for Change� also ran the icon. The 30th of Feb Organization is cyber-joke launched by the bloggers in March, following the attacks on Coptic churches in Alexandria, for which the interior ministry blamed a "mentally retarded" suspect. The bloggers were mocking the security services’ constant blaming of “retards� for terror, homicide, and whatever crimes they couldn’t solve, like the massacre in Bani Mazar.

-3amr 3ezzat, another prominent Egyptian blogger, ran the poster following the assault on Sharqawi.

The flag has always been a taboo in Egypt’s political culture, both left and right.

I’ve heard across the years all sorts of jokes on how Americans are flag-waving patriots, but honestly, I think (or at least used to) Egyptians are worse in that regards. And probably what happened to the Sudanese refugees in Mohandessin last December was a strong evidence of that.

Even at the height of Egyptian leftist radicalism in the 1970s, flag-burning traditions, like those pictures we saw of the US anti-war demos, never really took off in Egypt. The flag was extremely sacred. I remember sometime in the late 1990s, the media went hysterical when Muslim Brothers students at Dar el-3oloum raised the flag of Egypt, but with the Quran and the two swords (the MB's symbol) replacing Saladin's Eagle.

I always felt the opposition was in a constant competition with the regime over who is more "patriotic"--and as an internationalist that sickens me, and I hope the latest cyber-campaign might be a departure from this narrow chauvinist view.

Inverted Egyptian flag circulated by bloggers