A collage of photographs showing a man being publicly executed for his Christian faith, which has garnered thousands of Facebook likes and shares in just a few days, is a hoax.
The graphic image shows a man being killed by hanging. Before his execution, he is shown smiling with a noose around his neck, and the text within the image says, "I'm Proud To Be a Christian."
"This man was killed in Iran for his faith in Jesus Christ," Facebook user Warna Kumara, who posted the photo, said in the image's caption. "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."
But GMA News Online reports the image, which has garnered more than 24,000 shares and nearly 6,000 likes on Facebook since it was posted on March 4, is a fake.
The man in the photograph was hanged after being convicted of murdering Iranian Judge Hassan Moghaddas, BBC News reported at the time of the execution in 2007. The man, Majid Kavousifar, was killed along with his accomplice and nephew, Hossein Kavousifar, in front of a crowd of several hundred people in a Tehran square.
The execution was held on the same date and in the same place the duo slayed Moghaddas. The men were also killed in front of a large picture of the deceased judge.
Kumara could not be reached by The Christian Post for comment on the photograph before publication time.
Social media sites were a hotbed for the creation and spread of hoaxes in 2012.
Following the school shootings in Newtown, Conn., last year, for example, a Canadian man wrote a statement about the attacks that was later falsely attributed to actor Morgan Freeman. The phony Freeman rant was shared more than one million times on Facebook.
Another sham occurred in 2012 when someone on Facebook said pop singer Justin Bieber had been "stabbed by a crazed fan outside a NYC nightclub," though the incident didn't actually occur.
The deaths of several actors – Freeman, Adam Sandler, Charlie Sheen, Channing Tatum and more – were also falsely reported last year as a part of various hoaxes.