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Elling, Rasmus C. (2012) 'Matters of Authenticity: Nationalism in Post-Khomeini Iran.' In: Nabavi, Negin, (ed.), Iran: From theocracy to the Green Movement. New York: Palgrave-Macmillan.

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During a ceremony in 2010, cameras caught Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a somewhat awkward situation: he was tiptoeing to place a keffiyeh around the neck of a tall man on a podium. The checkered keffiyeh scarf, recognized as a Palestinian national symbol in most of the world, is seen by Iranians as an insignia of the hard-line Basij militia. The absurdity of the scene lay in the fact that the man on the podium was dressed not as an Islamist storm trooper, but as a soldier of the ancient, pre-Islamic Achaemenid dynasty. The ceremony marked not only the return of an important antique relic to Iran—the so-called Cyrus Cylinder—but also an important shift in ideological discourse. Ahmadinejad’s clumsiness in bestowing the keffiyeh seemed to suggest his unease not so much in the presence of the foreign guests attending the ceremony but rather with the potential reaction of the wider domestic audience—in particular those of his Islamist supporters who would be shocked by the scene. Yet, Ahmadinejad’s keffiyeh bestowal did little to cover what was a blatant show of nationalist pride, unprecedented in Iran’s 30 years as Islamic Republic.

Item Type: Book Chapters
SOAS Departments & Centres: Legacy Departments > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Department of History
ISBN: 9780230114616
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 02 Feb 2011 16:47

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