A series of images depict a smiling man with a hangman’s noose around his neck. The caption states that he chose to die for being a Christian rather than becoming a Muslim against his will. Today we’ll look at the veracity of this story.
The photos are real, but the attached caption is not. Let’s first take a look at the story being circulated with these photos, which have been heavily shared on social media for several years:
This Man of God in Iran was GIVEN the choice to DENY JESUS CHRIST AS LORD and Become a Muslim 2 keep his life or KEEP HIS FAITH in Christ AND LOSE HIS LIFE…
This Sunday he faced DEATH with a SMILE because he knew that
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
The photos of the hanging are real, but the story above – which is often circulated with them – is completely fictional.
The Real Story
As reported by the BBC, this man’s name was Majid Kovousifar and he was one of two killers publicly hanged in Iran back in 2007 for murdering a prominent judge. They were hanged in the same location as the murder, on the same date, and with a large picture of the murdered judge looming nearby.
The man’s religious beliefs were not reported, nor were they a factor in his conviction or the hanging for the crime he committed.
The two men were executed in front of a large crowd, with many spectators filming and taking pictures with their mobile phones.
Why was he smiling?
The man’s smile with a noose around his neck has been a point of curiosity. The BBC reported that he was attempting to console his nephew, Hossein Kavousifar, who was his accomplice in the murder and was also facing execution that day. Some news reports stated were that they were cousins.
The BBC reported, “When Hossein Kavousifar looked distressed as he awaited his execution, his uncle gestured to him and smiled in an attempt to reassure him.”
One of the chief prosecutors in the case told reporters that Majid expressed no remorse in the killing.
The man in the photo was hanged for murdering a prominent judge, not for religious reasons.
Updated January 19, 2016
Originally published June 2013