LONDON - Mr Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's vitriolic attacks on the Jewish world hide an astonishing secret, according to a report in The Daily Telegraph.
A photograph of the Iranian President holding up his identity card during elections in March 2008 clearly shows his family has Jewish roots, the British newspaper reported.
A close-up of the document reveals he was previously known as Sabourjian - a Jewish name meaning cloth weaver.
The short note scrawled on the card suggests his family changed its name to Ahmadinejad when they converted to Islam after his birth. The Sabourjians traditionally hail from Aradan, Mr Ahmadinejad's birthplace, and the name derives from "weaver of the Sabour", the name for the Jewish Tallit shawl in Persia. The name is even on the list of reserved names for Iranian Jews compiled by Iran's Ministry of the Interior.
Mr Ali Nourizadeh, of the Centre for Arab and Iranian Studies, said: "This aspect of Mr Ahmadinejad's background explains a lot about him.
"Every family that converts into a different religion takes a new identity by condemning their old faith. By making anti-Israeli statements he is trying to shed any suspicions about his Jewish connections. He feels vulnerable in a radical Shia society."
A London-based expert on Iranian Jewry said that "jian" ending to the name specifically showed the family had been practising Jews.
"He has changed his name for religious reasons, or at least his parents had," said the Iranian-born Jew living in London. "Sabourjian is well known Jewish name in Iran."
A spokesman for the Israeli embassy in London said it would not be drawn on Mr Ahmadinejad's background.
The Iranian leader has not denied his name was changed when his family moved to Tehran in the 1950s. But he has never revealed what it was changed from or directly addressed the reason for the switch.
Relatives have previously said a mixture of religious reasons and economic pressures forced his blacksmith father Ahmad to change when Mr Ahmadinejad was aged four.
Mr Ahmadinejad has regularly levelled bitter criticism at Israel, questioned its right to exist and denied the Holocaust. The Daily Telegraph
Mehdi Khazali, the son of the conservative Ayatollah Khazali, has written on his personal website that he recently learned that President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has Jewish roots.
Khazali notes that Ahmadinejad changed his family name from Saburjian, and says that the origins of the Saburjian family in the town of Aradan should be investigated.
Ahmadinejad's relatives had told Britain's "The Guardian" following his election that the family had changed its name for "a mixture of religious and economic reasons."
"The name change provides an insight into the devoutly Islamic working-class roots of Mr. Ahmadinejad's brand of populist politics," journalist Robert Tait wrote in "The Guardian." "The name Saborjhian derives from thread painter -- sabor in Farsi -- a once common and humble occupation in the carpet industry in Semnan Province, where Aradan is situated. Ahmad, by contrast, is a name also used for the Prophet Muhammad and means virtuous; nejad means race in Farsi, so Ahmadinejad can mean Muhammad's race or virtuous race.”
Ahmadinejad, of course, is known for his frequent slurs and threats against the Jewish state of Israel. The claim about his background should be seen in the context of a growing rift among the president's political allies, the so-called principlists, in the run-up to the June presidential election.
Sakit nih orang.......