Ahmadinejad Is Not Jewish
Iranian president's family is about as Muslim as can be
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 5, 2009 5:23 PM CDT
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad listens during a press conference in New York, Friday Sept. 25, 2009.   (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
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(Newser) – The bombshell claim that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's family is Jewish is false. The assertion was based on the fact that the family changed its last name from Sabourjian shortly before the Iranian leader's birth, and the "fact" that Sabourjian means "weaver of the sabour," which the Telegraph said was the Iranian name for the Jewish tallit shawl. In fact, Iranian Jews call the shawl tzitzit, and many Iranian Muslims have the last name Sabourjian, the Guardian reports.

Ahamdinejad's father is a longtime Koran teacher, and his mother is a "seyyede"—a person believed to be a direct descendant of the prophet Muhammad. Sabourjian actually means "cloth weaver," which is the reason the family changed it: when having a last name became mandatory, many poor, rural families like the Sabourjians adopted names that indicated their professions. When they moved to Tehran, shortly before Mahmoud's birth, the family changed the name to avoid being looked down upon by city folk.