Our Flag: An Attempt to Retrieve the Symbol of the Uprising

03 January 2015

National symbols are a means of uniting people under a shared banner. Thus, the vitriol surrounding the debate over which flag represents Syria is emblematic of the deep divisions in Syrian society. At a time when many different visions of Syria’s future compete over the country, it is no surprise that the division is no longer simply between the regime’s two-starred flag and revolution’s three-starred or even the black banners of Islamist militias. These flags are harbingers of values as much as they are symbols in and of themselves.

To many protesters and activists in Syria the green flag of the revolution represents their ideals of freedom and dignity in direct opposition to both the regime’s and the Islamists’. Our Flag is one of many campaigns aiming at restoring the primacy of the revolution’s early colors and their values.

Launched in the liberated areas of Aleppo, the campaign was operated by activists working in the field of civil society and transitional justice, who had had training courses in organizing advocacy and awareness campaigns in Turkey.

In light of the discord and chaos in Syria, the campaign provides a much needed means of unity between Syrians, according to the organisers. “The multiplication of armed groups with different loyalties and agendas goes head to head with the symbolism of the revolution's flag and the idea of Syria as a homeland for all Syrians.” says of the campaign's activists, “Which is why we are in dire need to revive this national symbol that brings people together.”

Before launching the campaign, the team coordinated with a number civil society groups and battalions from the Free Syrian Army, including Salah al-Din Assembly and Bustan al-Qasr Council. Through awareness seminars to armed insurgents who believe in a civil state, the activists were able to form alliances with major armed battalions to insure the success of their campaign.

Funded by The Day After Organization (TDA), the campaign's operators painted the flag of the revolution on the walls in public spaces, and distributed posters of the flag. The activities were carried out amid many obstacles that manifested itself socially by the number of people who denounced the campaign or simply refused to cooperate. “This was either out of fear from the armed factions that control the area, or because of misconceptions about the flag being the flag of the French mandate.”

However, the most difficult challenges of the campaign were those relating to issues of security. If violence committed by armed fractions can be avoided through coordination with battalions and activists in the region, the violence and usual bombardment of the regime can hardly be averted, activists explain. Moreover, the chaos that impose itself, particularly in Aleppo, has lead to the abduction and forced disappearance in countless civil activists.

Nonetheless, the campaign challenges this bitter reality with a lot of stubbornness and defiance, attempting to retrieve the symbol of their revolution, and to stand up to extremism and tyranny at the same time.



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Illustation by Dima Nechawi Graphic Design by Hesham Asaad