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Neo-Iranian Nationalism: Pre-Islamic Grandeur and Shi'i Eschatology in President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's Rhetoric

2016-03-01
Fozi, Navid
In 2009, Iranian president Mahmud Ahmadinejad began to invoke nationalist sentiments by paying homage to Iran's pre-Islamic history; a significant shift from 30 years of disparaging this period. Tracing the religious and political genealogies of Ahmadinejad's discourse, this article analyzes the climate that rendered both the Islamic Republic's Shi'i-oriented nationalism and the secular alternative proposed by the Pahlavi dynasty politically inadequate. Such a climate provided conditions to amalgamate, albeit incompletely, a "neo-Iranian" nationalist discourse based on restoring ancient Persia's grandeur and bolstered by Shi'i eschatology.