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Saudi Arabia Proposal to Remove Sword from National Flag is Criticized

The Saudi writer, Fahd Amer Al-Ahmadi, issued a tweet in which he said: “I suggest removing the sword from our Saudi flag because it is not appropriate (first) for our current era, and is not in line with (second) the Almighty saying: There is no compulsion in religion, and (third) to deny allegations of violence and murder about our religion.”

Previously, the Saudi flag was changed six times, and in twice of those six times it did not carry a sword.

Prince Sattam bin Khalid Al Saud, responded to Al-Ahmadi’s tweet, saying: “The sword is a symbol of strength and justice and is an integral part of our history. Do not forget that our kings raise the sword during shows to express strength, pride, and dignity. Does this mean that they call for violence”?

The Flag’s Design

The Arabic inscription on the flag, written in the calligraphic Thuluth script, is the shahada or Islamic declaration of faith:

“lā ʾilāha ʾillā-llāh, muhammadun rasūlu-llāh,” or

There is no god but Allah; Muhammad is the Messenger of God.

The green of the flag represents Islam and the sword stands for the strictness in applying justice.

The Flag’s History

The Al Saud, the ruling family of Saudi Arabia, have long been closely related with Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab. He and the people who followed him since the 18th century, all used the shahada on their flags.

In 1921 Abdulaziz Abdulrahman Al-Saud, leader of the Al Saud and the future founder of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, added a sword to this flag. The design of the flag was not standardized prior to March 15, 1973, and variants with two swords and/or a white vertical stripe at the hoist were frequently used.

By 1938, the flag had basically assumed its present form, except the sword had a different design (with a more curved blade), along with the shahada above, which took up more of the flag’s space.