Wednesday, October 07, 2009

On Saturday the Telegraph published an article, by Damien McElroy and Ahmad Vahdat, claiming that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran was of Jewish ancestry; that his original family name was Sabourjian "a well known Jewish name in Iran".
It turns out that this story is a fabrication, one that may have originated among Ahmadinejad's enemies in Iran. The Telegraph's source for this non-story was an unnnamed "expert on Iranian Jewry". This individual appears to have been an expert on Telegraph journalists, knowing that they wouldn't bother to check that the information given was credible.
Anyone with a knowledge of the Farsi language and of Iranian nomenclature would have dismissed the explanation of the surname out of hand. But who'd want to spoil a good yarn with the boring facts? Not the people at the Telegraph, not even Ahmad Vahdat. Hang on a minute! Isn't that an Iranian name? Presumably the name does not guarantee a knowledge of Farsi, but I'm beginning to wonder if it could belong to our "London-based expert on Iranian Jewry".
Since the article was published this falsehood has been disseminated across the internet, with Ahminejad haters crowing about his Jewish identity. It's strikes me as anti-semitic that one would want someone one hates to be Jewish.
Since the story was exposed as a phoney the Telegraph has made no attempt to correct its error. No need, it's only Ahmadinejad.

After reading the story, and reflecting on a recent Telegraph column in which birth statistics were misinterpreted to show that immigrants are breeding at a disproportionate rate, I googled the words 'Telegraph' and 'downmarket'. This is what I found -

"They've tried turning it into the Mail, now the Telegraph is going downmarket instead. Former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie was offered a lucrative contract to write for the comment pages. Sadly, he has refused as he's still tied to The Sun, where he writes a column. Next on Will Lewis's shopping list is MacKenzie's mate and former Sun colleague Nick Ferrari, who happily said yes and penned his first piece last week. Ferrari is perhaps best known for inventing topless darts."
(from the Independent)

The Telegraph, though right-wing, used to stick to the facts in its reporting, and was read by people who didn't agree with its politics. I wonder if this is still the case.

Caution: on rereading the offending article I see that the quoted expert/charlatan is described as Jewish. It strikes me as unlikely that an Iranian Jew would be called Ahmad, so perhaps Mr. Vahdat is not the 'expert'. On the other hand, if 'Jewish' was a false description it would fit neatly with the rest of the article.

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