In a stunning report on Saturday, a British newspaper claimed to have uncovered proof that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- notorious among the international community for denying the holocaust -- was actually born a Jew.
According to The Telegraph, a high resolution photograph of Ahmadinejad holding up his Iranian identity card, taken just before the 2008 election, reveals that his family changed its name shortly after he was born, renouncing their Jewish faith and adopting Islam.
"A close-up of the document reveals he was previously known as Sabourjian – a Jewish name meaning cloth weaver," the UK paper reported.
"The name is even on the list of reserved names for Iranian Jews compiled by Iran's Ministry of the Interior," noted Israeli publication YNet News.
At the annual Quds Day rally in Tehran last month, the Iranian president reiterated his denial of the holocaust and blasted the Israeli government.
Ali Nourizadeh, with the Center for Arab and Iranian Studies, suggested to The Telegraph that having a Jewish background "explains a lot" about one of the key ruling figures of a Muslim nation.
The United States, Britain, France and Germany have all issued statements slamming Ahmadinejad's latest outburst dismissing the killing of some six million Jews of occupied Europe by the Nazis during World War II.
“The very existence of this regime is an insult to the dignity of the people,” the hardline president said of Israel. “They (the Western powers) launched the myth of the Holocaust. They lied, they put on a show and then they support the Jews.
“The pretext for establishing the Zionist regime is a lie… a lie which relies on an unreliable claim, a mythical claim, and the occupation of Palestine has nothing to do with the Holocaust,” he added. “This claim is corrupt and the pretext is corrupt. This (the Israeli) regime’s days are numbered and it is on its way to collapse. This regime is dying.”
During a televised debate leading up to his disputed reelection, Ahmadinejad was forced to admit his name had been changed, but he did not address the issue further, The Telegraph noted.
Accusations of Ahmadinejad's Jewish history have been floating around on the Internet since Mehdi Khazali, the son of Ayatollah Khazali, called for an investigation into his family origins on a blog. Khazali was later arrested amid protests of Ahmadinejad's disputed reelection.