Text size

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's scathing attacks against Israel and his repeated denials of the Nazi Holocaust could be motivated by a desire to conceal his own Jewish roots, an Iran expert told The Daily Telegraph on Saturday.

The British newspaper examined the Iranian leader's identity card which he displayed in public during his country's elections in March 2008.

The ID card bears his family's original surname, Sabourjian, which is a Jewish name that means cloth weaver, according to The Daily Telegraph.

The Sabourjians have historically been concentrated in the same region of Iran where Ahmadinejad was born, according to the report.

Ahmadinejad's identity papers indicate that his family changed its name and converted to Islam after he was born, the British newspaper said.

Iranian observers suggested that the president's constant verbal assault against Israel and Jews may be an attempt to prove his loyalty to Shia Islam while making every effort to hide his Jewish past.

"This aspect of Mr Ahmadinejad's background explains a lot about him," Iranian studies expert Ali Nourizadeh told The Telegraph. "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," Nourizadeh said. "He feels vulnerable in a radical Shia society."