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The Question:

When was the Red Crescent Society founded?

The Answer:

Swiss businessman Jean Henri Dunant founded what would eventually become the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movements in 1859 after helping take care of wounded French and Austrian soldiers in western Europe.

At the International Geneva Conference of 1864 Dunant's group adopted the red cross emblem as its protection for medical personnel as they attended the wounded during conflicts.

However, the religious connotations of the cross soon became evident. In the war between Turkey and Russia in 1876-78, the Ottoman Empire decided it would use a red crescent to mark its own ambulances while respecting the red cross on enemy ambulances.

The red crescent as well as the red lion and red sun used in Persia at the time were officially recognized in 1929. The crescent is still used today while the last country to use the red lion and red sun was Iran in 1980.

Today there is renewed interest in creating a new emblem for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Organizers hope to add a "red crystal," which "will appear as a red frame in the shape of a square on edge, on a white background, and is free from any religious, political or other connotation."

On December 8, 2005, this new emblem was endorsed by the diplomatic portion of the movement. A conference was planned for 2006 to modify the rules and officially adopt the new symbol alongside the cross and crescent.

—The Editors


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