Photos of a man smiling on his way to the gallows are going viral on Facebook, with thousands of people voicing sympathy for what they believe is a Christian martyr
— when the photo is actually that of a man convicted for politically-motivated murder in Iran in 2007.
A photo collage of the unidentified man, smiling just moments before his execution, was uploaded to Facebook on March 4 with the following text inserted: "I'm Proud To Be a Christian."
"This man was killed in Iran for his faith in Jesus Christ. Iranian Court Executed this man because he refused to renounce Christianity. He took his death with a smile. A real hero in God's vineyard," said the uploader in his caption.
In the four days since it was uploaded, the collage has already been shared almost 8,000 times by Facebook users, who were apparently led to believe that the man was martyred for his faith.
"I am proud of you. . .you die because of your faith and truly christian. . ,you may rest in peace. . .amen," said one user.
"We give all for Jesus, even our life," said another.
"'For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.' - Phil 1:21," someone else added, quoting Biblical scripture.
But not everyone was fooled by the faux caption:
"no. this man was killed because he shot a f****** judge," said one commenter.
An archived article on BBC News identifies the man as Majid Kavousifar, who was hanged in Iran in 2007 for the murder of a local judge in central Tehran.
Religion was not indicated as a factor in either the crime nor the subsequent hanging.
Kavousifar confessed to killing Judge Hassan Moghaddas for being "corrupt", according to Saeed Mortazavi, Tehran's chief prosecutor at the time of the execution.
Kavousifar was described as having shown "no remorse" for the murder, smiling and even waiving to his nephew moments before their deaths on the very same spot where Moghaddas was killed two years earlier.
Political motive, not religion
"The assassinated judge was known for adjudicating in political cases and cases where Iran's Islamic revolutionary system had been criticised," the BBC pointed out.
"Moghaddas had presided over the jailing of seven dissidents in 2000 after they attended a conference in Berlin on Iranian reform," explained a separate article from Reuters.