In Tunisia, the flag is everwhere. I started realizing how pervasive the flag is just through my pictures of daily life and street scenes -- I noticed how the red and white of the flag matched the red and white of the almost-as ubiquitous signs of Coca Cola, and that both really were...everywhere.
It took a bit longer for me to realize that the Tunisian flag is to Tunisia what King Abdullah II is in Jordan. Pictures of the King in Jordan warranted a whole collage in my reflections on Jordan, and I think that pictures of the Tunisian flag warrante the same emphasis here. The Tunisian flag is red and white, and is beautiful -- miniature flags streatch across like banners, while large flags serve as the backdrop to many official scenes and serve somewhat like public art.
It really is beautiful, and striking, to notice how prevalant the flag is here -- I started thinking about the role that the flag plays, in sympolizing the people and their commonality, and as a sign of national identity and loyalty, is very much what the pictures of the Hashemite dynasty did in Jordan -- however, as a republic (post-revolution no less), it would be impossible to plaster the face of a leader everywhere, so the flag comes to represent that collective identity.
In the ongoing events surrounding the wearing of the niqab at Al-Manouba university, the Tunisian flag was actually taken down, and replaced with a Salafi flag for a short time. In response to the incident, the Tunisian President Merzouki decried the taking down of the flag stating:“The flag is the symbol of the country … the blood of martyrs … and the Arab-Islamic identity.”
In a similar statement, individual women affirmed the importance of the Tunisian flag as part of their identity: At the 8 March 2012 Women’s Day rally, one of the women interviewed said, “Yesterday [the Salafists] crossed a line, for us the flag is sacred, it is our identity.”