LONDON, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used to have a Jewish last name, a British newspaper reported Saturday.
The Daily Telegraph said records indicate the Ahmadinejad family changed its name from Sabourjians, a name that is on the Tehran government's official list of Jewish names.
Ahmadinejad has developed a reputation in the west for anti-Semitism due to his vitriol against Israel and his frequent assertions that the extent of the Holocaust during World War II has been exaggerated.
The Telegraph said it spotted the clue on an old identity card Ahmadinejad showed to the press during the 2008 elections that showed the Sabourjians name. The card included a notation that the family converted to Islam after Ahmed was born.
"This aspect of Mr Ahmadinejad's background explains a lot about him," said Ali Nourizadeh, of the Centre for Arab and Iranian Studies.
"By making anti-Israeli statements he is trying to shed any suspicions about his Jewish connections," Nourizadeh told the Telegraph. "He feels vulnerable in a radical Shia society."
The Iranian Embassy in London declined comment on the report.