Ahmadinejad Is ... Jewish?

His family changed names after his birth
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 3, 2009 10:57 AM CDT
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shows his identification to the media as he registers as a candidate in May.   (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

(Newser) – Holocaust denier Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may be hiding Jewish roots. A close look at his identity card—which he held up to the media during Iran's presidential campaign—reveals that his family changed its name from Sabourjian shortly after his birth, the Telegraph reports. That's a Jewish name meaning cloth weaver—it's on the government's list of names reserved for Iranian Jews—and a note on the identity card suggests the family switched when it converted to Islam.

Ahmadinejad has acknowledged that his family changed names, but he has never revealed the original. One scholar notes that the "jian" ending means that family members were practicing Jews. "This aspect of Mr. Ahmadinejad's background explains a lot about him," says a member of the Center for Arab and Iranian Studies. "By making anti-Israeli statements he is trying to shed any suspicions about his Jewish connections."