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What does the Taliban flag say in English?

There have been widespread protests against the Taliban flag after the militant group assumed control of Afghanistan after the US withdrawal.

Men adjust the Taliban flag before the arrival of Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid (unseen) to address the first press conference in Kabul on August 17, 2021 following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

The lightning advance of the Taliban across Afghanistan following the withdrawal of US combat troops has led to a mass, multinational evacuation of foreigners and Afghans who worked with coalition forces during the two-decade US military presence in the country and tens of thousands of refugees seeking shelter in neighboring Pakistan. It has also left many stranded behind what are now Taliban lines and in cities controlled by the Islamist political and military organization, where protests have sprung up in cities including Kabul and Jalalabad against the raising of the Taliban flag in place of the black, red and green standard of the internationally recognized Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, whose government is now in exile.

Fatalities were reported when protesters in Jalalabad attempted to remove the Taliban flag, which is officially known as the Flag of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and which flew over the country from October 1997 until the US-led invasion in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on US soil by terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda.

What does the Taliban flag say?

A young boy waves an Afghan flag at a protest in support of Afghanistan in front of the White House.
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A young boy waves an Afghan flag at a protest in support of Afghanistan in front of the White House.KEN CEDENOREUTERS

The Taliban standard is a white field with the Shahadah embossed on it in black script. The Shahadah is an Islamic oath and one of the Five Pillars of Islam. It is recited by muezzin as part of the Islamic call to prayer and in English reads: "I bear witness that none deserves worship except God, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of God."

According to Al Jazeera, the Taliban flag uses the shorter version of the Shahada, La ilah ila Allah, Mohammad rasoul Allah: “There is no god but God and Muhammad is God’s messenger.”

Other uses of the Shahada on Islamic flags

Both Saudi Arabia and Somaliland have the Shahada included on their official national flags and Afghanistan considered using the Shahada on a 2004 version of its national flag but it is an association with Jihadist black standards that has led to protests after the Taliban takeover. Over the years several Islamist militant groups, among them Islamic State and al-Qaeda, have incorporated the Shahada onto their flags, with the script in white and the field black.

The Black Banner is historically associated with Muhammad as one of the standards flown by the founder of Islam. It was also used in the Abbasid Revolution in 747 – hence its use by IS in its attempts to create a 21st century Caliphate.