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Tunisia: Incorrect Versions of the Flag

Last modified: 2012-10-13 by rob raeside
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Incorrect version reported in 2000

image by Željko Heimer

I show the image here with a large disk as in Album des Pavillons (2000), though if the fringe is correct, the disk is probably not, and should match the "usual" size. This (or better the white fringed variant that I'll show subsequently) was adopted earliest on 25 July 1957 when Tunisia became a republic and Habib Bourguiba became president. It may be possible that it was abandoned on 07 November 1987 when Zine El Abidine Ben Ali replaced Bourguiba as president. To speculate further, the yellow fringed flag might have been a version used at first (shortly?) before the current "Li-l-watan" flag was adopted. This would make the Tunisian Republic one of the several that under French influence have habits of using different flags for subsequent presidents. It may be too early for any conclusions, as we have only two presidents to look at. Certainly, it wouldn't be surprising.
Željko Heimer, 12 April 2003

Incorrect version reported in 2012

image by Ivan Sache, 22 September 2012

On 14-15 September 2012, a public debate was organized at the National Constituent Assembly (ANC), with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The participants were given a notebook, whose cover was printed with the Tunisian coat of arms (top left) and the Tunisian flag (top right). It was soon noticed that the representation of the Tunisian flag was erroneous, the five-pointed star being replaced by a six-pointed star. The blunder was disseminated through different media, which started a small crisis, amplified by some cranks who claimed that the Tunisian star had been replaced by a Magen David as a prelude to the "establishment of the 6th caliphate" and to the "normalization with the Zionist State".

Mustapha Ben Jaafar, President of the ANC and member of the ruling party Ennahda, ordered to track the source of the "monumental" mistake. Since nobody among the organizers, especially the Ennahda party, had noticed the blunder, Ben Jaafar attempted to put the blame on the UNDP. The reports of the reply by the UNDP differ among the sources: they seem to have admitted that they had commissioned a printer to prepare the notebooks and forgot to check the documents before distribution. Several bloggers insisted that such a big mistake could be only deliberate. However, we are ware of several flag blunders caused by lack of attention or competence. Moreover, other bloggers recalled that the star represented on the erroneous flag was not shaped as a Magen David. Had it been, it would not necessarily be the mark of a Zionist plot; some recalled that similarly shaped symbols are very common in the Islamic iconography. Finally, some commentators argued that Tunisia faced much more serious challenges than this flag issue and that the UNDP was a main support of the set up of democracy and should not be blamed for such a minor issue

To conclude, this odd rendition of the flag appears as a circumstantial mistake, amplified by the Tunisian political context. Moreover, there is not the least evidence of any plot of any kind to change the Tunisian flag - a few, more or less serious proposals to change the colour of the flag or to add Islamic writing have been quickly rejected. The erroneous design appeared on a few hundreds of printed documents and nowhere else; there is no report of such a flag in the cloth - which does not mean that some prank will not produce one copy of it. - Photos of the notebook
Several reports identified the emblem on top left corner as the "logo of the ANC", while it is the national coat of arms, adding a mistake to the report of the mistake. This casts some doubt on the accuracy of their further comments on the "origin" and "meaning" of the six-pointed star.

The website of the ANC shows the flag of Tunisia with a five-pointed star. However, the details of the design do not match the specifications adopted in 2000>)
Ivan Sache, 22 September 2012