British Paper Claims Ahmadinejad Born Jewish

Posted on Updated on

October 5, 2009


JTA Wire Service

The author of a book on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is refuting a British newspaper report that the Iranian president was born to a Jewish family that converted to Islam.

The Daily Telegraph based its report Saturday on Ahmadinejad’s original family name of Sabourjian, which according to the article is a common Iranian Jewish name, especially among those from Aradan, where the Iranian president was born.

The paper claimed that the family converted to Islam when Ahmadinejad was 4 years old and published a picture of the Iranian leader holding up his identity card during last year’s election campaign in a way that shows his family’s previous name.

But in a blog on the Guardian Web site, Meir Javedanfar, co-author of “The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the State of Iran,” wrote Monday that rumors that Ahmadinejad’s family converted to Islam from Judaism are false.

Javedanfar, an Iranian-Israeli Middle East analyst, said Ahmadinejad’s father was a religious Shia Muslim who taught the Koran before and after the Iranian president’s birth and their move to Tehran.

The newspaper reported that Sabourjian means cloth weaver, or specifically tallit weaver. It adds that the word “sabour” means tallit, and the suffix “jian” indicates that his family was practicing Jews. The Telegraph also reported that the name is included in an Iranian Home Ministry list of names reserved for Iranian Jews.

Ahmadinejad has never denied that his family changed its name when it moved to Tehran in the 1950s, but has never stated the family’s original name.

Romania to Dedicate Holocaust Memorial

A Romanian National Holocaust Memorial will be dedicated in central Bucharest.

Holocaust survivors will join political, cultural, social and religious dignitaries at Thursday’s ceremony for a monument commemorating Jewish and Gypsy victims. Since 2004, Romania has marked Oct. 9 as Holocaust Commemoration Day.

President Traian Basescu laid the cornerstone for the memorial in 2006 and is expected to attend the dedication.

The Romania Ministry of Culture, Religious Affairs and National Heritage described the monument, designed by Peter Jacobi, as “a contemporary expression of a memorial, the bearer of a message, a visible sign, an active space with which the public can interact freely.”

The monument includes five sculptures symbolizing Jewish and Roma suffering, a central memorial site and two installations using tombstones.

Among those attending the dedication will be Warren Miller, chairman of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, and Rabbi Andrew Baker, director of International Affairs of the American Jewish Committee, who also serves as the OSCE representative on combating anti-Semitism.

Construction of the monument was mandated by an international commission on the Holocaust in Romania, headed by Elie Wiesel, which released a 400-page report in 2004. As many as 380,000 Jews and thousands of Gypsies were killed in the Holocaust in Romanian-occupied territories.

Brazilian Students Welcome Exam Postponement

Brazilian Jewish youth welcomed the postponement of a national university admission exam that had been slated for the first day of Sukkot.

Some 15,000 Orthodox Jews, Seventh-day Adventists and other Sabbatical Christians will now be able to take the national university admission exam, called the Enem, since it was rescheduled for November.

The exam’s questions were leaked last week, causing the postponement. The Brazilian Federal Police are investigating the case.

“It can only be God’s doing,” Freddy Marcos, a 17-year-old from the Iavne Jewish school in Sao Paulo, told the Brazilian newspaper Estado.

Rabbi Samy Pinto criticized the proposal that Jewish students should take the exams after sunset.

“An isolated candidate will not have equal conditions,” he said.

The Enem is used by many public and private universities as part of their entrance requirements. More than 4 million Brazilian students will take the exam this year.

This story reprinted courtesy of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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