A star (or stars) and crescent featuring in some combination form the basis of symbols widely found across the ancient world, with examples attested from the Eastern Mediterranean, Persia and Central Asia.
The symbol emerged into popular use during the 19th century as a modernistic national symbol for the Ottoman Empire during the Westernizing Tanzimat reforms. The Ottoman flag of 1844 with a white "ay-yıldız" (Turkish for "crescent-star") on a red background continues to be in use as the flag of the Republic of Turkey with minor modifications. Other states formerly part of the Ottoman Empire also used the symbol, including Libya (1951–1969 and after 2011), Tunisia (1956) and Algeria (1958). The same symbol was used in other national flags introduced during the 20th century, including the flags of Azerbaijan (1918), Pakistan (1947), Malaysia (1948), and Mauritania (1959).
During the 1950s to 1960s, the symbol was re-interpreted as the symbol of Islam or the Muslim community. By the 1970s, this symbolism was embraced by movements of Arab nationalism or Islamism, such as the proposed Arab Islamic Republic (1974) and the American Nation of Islam (1973).
Source: Star and crescent from Wikipedia
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