Merhavy, Menahem. 2015. Religious Appropriation of National Symbols in Iran: Searching for Cyrus the Great. Iranian Studies. 48(6), 933-948.
In this article I examine the debate over the character of Cyrus the Great in Iran during the last four decades, using it as a prism to view the struggle over the desired balance between religious and ethnic components of Iranian identity. Heated polemics over the historical figure of Cyrus and his legacy reveal undercurrents of Iranian identity dilemmas as well as different and conflicting views of Iranian identity. Beyond a mere historical or religious controversy, the debate over the “right” memory of Cyrus presents an interesting case of shifting emphasis on identity and sources of political inspiration in Iranian society from the late 1960s to the present. Moreover, putting the debate over the ancient king in perspective, there emerges a wider picture of religious adaptation and embrace of what once seemed pagan or secular.