Back to Africa Check

Woman about to be stoned to death under Sharia law in Iran? Photo from 2003 protest in South America

A meme repeatedly shared on Facebook and other social media shows a photo of an elderly woman buried in the ground up to her neck, being spoon-fed water.

The text says she is about to be stoned to death.

It reads: “A woman just before being stoned to death in Iran under Shariah laws. At some places on this earth, women’s rights are limited to getting a spoonful of water before stoning. Still want to tell me that Islam is worthy of being part of our civilisation?”  

The meme has been shared - and flagged as false - on Facebook in Nigeria and Cameroon.

Mistaken for 26-year-old executed for self-defence

A reverse image search on Yandex reveals that the photo has been widely published online. The newspaper Arabs Today used it in a report on the US government condemning the execution of Reyhaneh Jabbari, an Iranian woman who was “convicted of killing a man she stabbed in self-defence during a sexual assault”.

Jabbari was 26 at the time of her execution by hanging – despite global appeals – in October 2014 at the Gohardasht Prison in Iran. She bore no resemblance to the woman in the meme, who is older.

Anti-government protest in Colombia – 16 years ago

A further search of the image without the text brings up similar photos. They include Adobe Stock photos by Reuters photographer Eduardo Munoz, taken on 4 July 2003. The photographer was covering a protest in Cali, a city in the northwestern South American country of Colombia.

The photo’s caption says the woman buried neck-deep in the ground in 2003 was 66-year-old Maria Gabriela Ruiz.  

Ruiz and two others, Olmedo Gomez and Nicolas Salazar, buried their bodies in the ground “in protest against the government because 150 displaced persons have not been relocated to a safe sector of Cali”, the caption says. – Allwell Okpi (07/06/2019)


Republish our content for free

We believe that everyone needs the facts.

You can republish the text of this article free of charge, both online and in print. However, we ask that you pay attention to these simple guidelines. In a nutshell:

1. Do not include images, as in most cases we do not own the copyright.

2. Please do not edit the article.

3. Make sure you credit "Africa Check" in the byline and don't forget to mention that the article was originally published on

For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false

A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”, “altered”, “partly false” or “missing context”. This could have serious consequences. What do you do?

Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.

Publishers guide

Africa Check teams up with Facebook

Africa Check is a partner in Meta's third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.

The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.

You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
limit: 600 characters

Want to keep reading our fact-checks?

We will never charge you for verified, reliable information. Help us keep it that way by supporting our work.

Become a newsletter subscriber

Support independent fact-checking in Africa.