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Tracing the history of a country’s flag often tells unique stories of power and symbolism that are central to its identity. Morocco is no exception. With a dizzying back-and-forth timeline of struggle, colonialism, independence, and religion, Morocco’s history has been represented by its flag every step of the way. Here’s a little rundown on the Morocco flag and what it means for the North African nation today.
The earliest version of the modern flag can be traced back to the Almohad dynasty in the 12th century. The background of the flag is the same deep red as the modern flag, but in the middle was a 64-piece chess board. In traditional Islamic culture, the chessboard stands as a symbol for verbal sparring and the victories of Islamic arguments over other dominant moral frameworks.
The Marinid dynasty, a Sunni Muslim sect of Berber descent, overthrew the Almohad and changed replaced the chess board with an octagon star and a perimeter around the edges. This design was adopted by the Saadi Dynasty that ruled until 1659.
In 1666, the Alaouite Dynasty took over, and it still stands as the current monarchy of Morocco today. The Kingdom, which claims to be the descendant of the prophet Muhammad, decided to do away with all emblems and wave a plain flag of traditional red color for over 400 years. The red is said to represent strength and valor. Below are images of the three flags that represented Morocco from the 11th to the 17th century. (If you’re traveling around the country and keen to find out more, check out the Top 10 Things to do in Morocco.)
In the early 20th century, Morocco fell victim to the push of Spanish and French colonialism with the Treaty of Fez. The “agreement” effectively split up the country — certain parts were reserved and occupied by Spain and others by France. Nominally speaking, the treaty didn’t deprive Morocco of its sovereignty, as Sultan Abdelhafid still remained the country’s figurehead, but in practice, he had no real power.
On November 17th 1915, the kingdom of Morocco adopted the current flag as its national symbol. Although colonial powers only allowed the flag to be displayed within its borders (and not at sea), it eventually became the flag of the country’s independence in 1955.
The current flag has a minimalist theme with a green pentagram or a five-pointed star. The star is known as the Seal of Solomon, which dates back to Islamic and Jewish origins, and its five points are known to represent the five pillars of Islam: faith, prayer, charity, fasting, and pilgrimage. The star is also closely related to Morocco’s motto of Allah, Al-Watan, Al-Malik, which translates to ‘God, Homeland, King.’ (Debating a trip to the Arab state? Check out Is Morocco Safe?)
Colors of the Flag
Although the use of red is more common in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, red and green are traditional colors used by Arabic countries around the world, as well as neighboring Algeria and Western Sahara. The red stands for courage, strength, and determination, while the green stands for love, joy, and hope.