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Turkey: Law on the flag

Last modified: 2022-10-14 by ivan sache
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The fundamentals of the Turkish Flag were laid down by the Turkish Flag Law No. 2994 of May 29, 1936 (now abrogated). The Turkish Flag Regulation No. 2/7175 dated July 28, 1937, and Supplementary Regulation No. 11604/2 dated July 29, 1939, were enacted to describe how the flag Law would be implemented.
The Turkish Flag Law No. 2893 dated September 22, 1983, and published in the Official Gazette on September 24, 1983, was promulgated six months after its publication. According to Article 9 of the Law, Statutes including the fundamentals of the implementation of the Law was also published.

Article 1.
The purpose of this Law is to identify the principles and procedures about shape, construction and protection of the Turkish flag.

Shape and construction of the flag.
Article 2. The Turkish flag shall be a red flag with a white moon - star which is in the shape and proportions shown in the attached table. The standards, the fabric and material of the making of the flag and special flags (symbolic flags, special signs, pennant, ship's pennant and official flag) are shown in the charter.

Hoisting and lowering the flag.
Article 3.
The flag shall be hoisted on public associations and foundations and their abroad representatives, seavehicles of public foundations, real and judicial persons. It shall be hoisted on vehicles of the authorities in and out of the country.
Hoisting and lowering of the flag shall be done with ceremony. Making of the ceremony in appropriate way shall be under the responsability of the authorized chief in that place.
The Turkish flag shall be hoisted on national holidays and general holidays, starting from holiday start and ending in the sunset of the end of the holiday. (Note: A recent modification of the Law changed this rule. The flag shall now be hoisted on the official buildings all the time.)
Permanent hoisting of the flag, the closed places in which the flag shall be placed, the places where the flag shall be used as background, the way of hoisting the flag in private places, the schedules and subjects about hoisting of the flag on the vessels of the Turkish Armed Forces and Turkish merchant ships are shown in the charter.

Flying the flag at half staff.
Article 4.
The Turkish flag shall be flown at half staff as a sign of mourning on November 10. [November 10 [1938] is the anniversary of the death of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the modern Turkish Republic].
The other instances and time of flying the flag at half staff shall be announced by the Prime Minister.

Saluting the flag.
Article 5.
The flag shall be saluted when hanging and lowering or during transfer of power ceremony.

Places that can be covered with flag.
Article 6.
The coffins of former Presidents, martyrs and other civilians or soldiers who are identified in the charter; the statues of Atatürk in opening ceremonies and the desks in official oath ceremonies can be covered with the Turkish flag.
In addition, the ways and places of usage of the flag according to national customs and traditions are shown in the charter.

Article 7.
The Turkish flag shall not be used as torn, unraveled, patched, with holes in it, dirty, faded, wrinkled or in a situation that will bruise its spiritual value.
Except for official oath ceremonies it shall not be used on desks and podiums as a cover for any purpose. It shall not be put on places where people sit or stand. The shape of the flag shall not be made to these places and similar things.
It shall not be worn as a dress or uniform.
Any political party, organization, society, club, association or foundation other than the public associations and those foundations that are determined in the charter shall not use the flag on their emblems, pennants, symbols or similar things that will form base or background on either side.
The Turkish Flag shall not be insulted or shown disrespect by speech, writing, action or any other means.
The flag shall not be torn, burned, thrown or used without care.
Any action that is against this law and the charter shall be prevented and relevant investigation shall be performed.

Article 8.
Making, selling and using flags that is against this law and the charter is forbidden. The flags that are done against this prohibition shall be collected by the local authority.
People who behave against the rules of this law shall be penalized according to Article 526 of Turkish Penal Code if their crime does not require a heavier punishment.

Article 9.
The matters that are said to be prescribed in the charter and other principles concerning the application of the present law shall be shown in the charter that will be prepared within six months after publication of the present law.

Abrogated Law.
Article 10.
The Law on the Turkish Flag dated May 29, 1936 (No. 2,994) shall be abrogated.

Article 11.
This Article shall become valid after six months of its publication.

Article 12.
The Articles of the present Law shall be enforced by the Council of Ministers.

Dov Gutterman & Onur Özgün, 1 September 2001

Cases of infringement of the Law on the flag

The Swedish newspaper Metro reported that eight shop owners in Turkey were sentenced to pay fines of 250 million Turkish Lira each, because they had sold t-shirts which had the Turkish flag upon them. The newspaper source were the Turkish news agencies TT and DPA.

Elias Granqvist, 14 November 2001

According to Sabah, published on October 31, Attorney General of Selçuk initiated an investigation since children wore clothes with the Turkish flag figure on the National Day, October 29. After that, I heard that some sellers stopped selling these t-shirts.

Onur Özgün, 15 November 2001

When Şerife Çankhoğlu found an old Turkish flag in the bin, she thought it would be a good sunshade for her goats. With her husband's help she hoisted the flag up and tied it to four posts. The sun shone on the flag and the goats relaxed in the welcome shadow that it cast. Very soon, though, the couple were reported to the police; upon their arrival the farmers were arrested and are now being taken to court for bringing the flag into disrepute.
For the majority of Turks their flag is a highly respected symbol and its use is strictly governed and protected by law. Law 2,893 came into force in 1983 and covers the reasons and occasions when the flag may be used and how. The flag may be draped across the coffins of Presidents and martyrs, but not average civilians. At the official opening of Atatürk statues and when swearing in new military recruits, one may put the flag on a table, but at no other time. According to the seventh statute of the same law one may not use a flag that is "torn, unstitched, dirty, faded, wrinkled or that has holes in it", and it is illegal to place the flag in places that are not worthy of it (ie the goat pen). All of these offences are strictly punishable. It is against the law to wear the flag symbols on a T-shirt, so at national football matches Turkish fans wear red and white rather than wear the flag symbol. It is forbidden to put the flag anywhere it may be sat on or trodden on. There is a prohibition on political parties, clubs and charities using the symbol. One may not insult or disrespect the flag in writing, by one's actions or orally. You may not burn, rip or throw the flag to the ground.
Proponents of the flag law argue that the flag is the most revered symbol of the Turkish republic. The prohibitions on its use by any particular group mean that the flag does not represent the "views" of any particular political party or any particular political philosophy. The flag is not simply another "idea" or "point of view" competing for recognition in the marketplace of ideas. Millions and millions of Turks regard it with an almost mystical reverence, regardless of the sort of social, political or philosophical beliefs they may have. To them, desecration of the flag is not an essential part of any exposition of ideas but rather the equivalent of an inarticulate grunt or roar that is most likely to be indulged in to antagonise others.
[Cyprus Mirror, 17 December 2005]

Ivan Sache, 18 December 2005

Use of the flag on coffins

In Turkey there is a wide range of people whose coffin can be covered with the national flag. There is not much explanation in the Law but a Regulation prescribes that the coffins of presidents, former presidents, martyrs, soldiers, the officials that officially had a flag at their office, deputies, veterans, members of judicial bodies, national artists, security officials, world and olympic champion athletes, official school principles, presidents of union confederations, presidents of state foundations and civilians who has shown high success in science, art, cultural, sporting and social areas.. can be covered with national flag. The list continues with several foundation, institute presidents and almost all officiers can be included with a bit generalization. I don't think that it is such a wide range in other countries.
The coffins of the civilians killed in the terrorist attacks in İstanbul on 15 November 2003 were covered with the national flag by a special ermission. So they can be thought as an exception.

Onur Özgün, 24 November 2003