Monday, October 05, 2009

Iran's "President" Tallit-Weaver

There are some bizarre news stories out there, but this one, if not a hoax, takes the cake:
A photograph of the Iranian president holding up his identity card during elections in March 2008 clearly shows his family has Jewish roots.

A close-up of the document reveals he was previously known as Sabourjian – a Jewish name meaning cloth weaver.
"Sabour" is the Persian word for the Jewish prayer shawl better known by its Hebrew name tallit.

So A-Train (S-Train? Let's call him that from now on) has Jewish roots, though his family converted when he was four, so he likely has little recollection of his Judaism? Guess no one has asked him if he's circumcised, then? Color me skeptical for now - I feel like this is the kind of thing that someone would have noticed before. If it's true, though, one of global politics' weirdest characters has gotten even weirder...

Update: Looks like the skeptic in me was right - while A-Train's family did change their name, the change has more to do with upward social mobility in Tehran and less to do with a family disguising its supposed heathen past. His mother is believed to be a direct descendant of Muhammad, which means she's probably not Jewish. And Sabourjian is most likely a name derived from a peasant cloth-spinner, which is not really a Jewish name.

Incidentally, now we have a Christian head-of-state falsely accused of being a Muslim, and a Muslim head-of-state falsely accused of being Jewish. Now we need someone to try to prove that Netanyahu's a Christian. You know, just to complete the cycle.

Update link from this Twitter user who, like me, tweets about soccer and politics a lot.


JaeHo said...

The fringes are called "tzitzit"; The prayer shawl is called a tallit (or tallis). Are people just repeating disinformation?

Jeff said...

JaeHo, thanks. Fixed.

As for whether the article is misinformation or not, I'll say it again - I'm skeptical but it's pretty well possible. The premise is plausible, and A-Train has admitted that he's not using his birth name, and there's some actual evidence being cited. That alone places it above the "birther" stuff going on here. But it's still a little fishy and not well-sourced enough for me to accept it as fact yet. I just posted it because I thought it was funny.

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