The debate continues as Iranian-Israeli Meir Javedanfar, a Middle East analyst, presents evidence in an article published in today’s Guardian newspaper (UK) that clearly refute those presented by the Daily Telegraph last week. Below are a few excerpts, but the full article can be read here.
Professor David Yeroshalmi, author of The Jews of Iran in the 19th century and an expert on Iranian Jewish communities, disputes the validity of this argument. “There is no such meaning for the word ‘sabour’ in any of the Persian Jewish dialects, nor does it mean Jewish prayer shawl in Persian. Also, the name Sabourjian is not a well-known Jewish name,” he stated in a recent interview.
Yeroshalmi, a scholar at Tel Aviv University’s Center for Iranian Studies, also went on to dispute the article’s findings that the “-jian” ending to the name specifically showed the family had been practising Jews. “This ending is in no way sufficient to judge whether someone has a Jewish background. Many Muslim surnames have the same ending,” he stated.
Regarding the evidence in the Daily Telegraph that stated Jews in Iran are weavers, Javedanfar states:
Carpet weaving or colouring carpet threads are not professions associated with Jews in Iran.
And he continues…
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Ahmadinejad’s father Ahmad was in fact a religious Shia, who taught the Quran before and after Ahmadinejad’s birth and their move to Tehran.
Moreover, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s mother is a Seyyede. This is a title given to women whose family are believed to be direct bloodline descendants of Prophet Muhammad.
The reason that Ahmadinejad’s father changed his surname has more to do with the class struggle in Iran. When it became mandatory to adopt surnames, many people from rural areas chose names that represented their professions or that of their ancestors. This made them easily identifiable as townfolk. In many cases they changed their surnames upon moving to Tehran, in order to avoid snobbery and discrimination from residents of the capital.