Image of Obama bowing to Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is altered | Fact check

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The claim: Image shows Barack Obama bowing to Iran leader Ali Khamenei

An Oct. 9 Facebook post (direct link, archive link) appears to show former President Barack Obama bowing to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

"REMEMBER THIS? -- It all started here," reads the post.

Text in the image reads, "Never before has a sitting president ever bowed to a terrorist leader."

A similar post on X, formerly Twitter, was reposted more than 2,000 times in five days.

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Our rating: Altered

The image is altered. Two legitimate photographs were used to make it appear as if Obama bowed to Khamenei.

Obama didn't bow to Khamenei

The image in the Facebook post is a composite of two photographs taken years apart.

The image of Khamenei shows him at the inauguration ceremony for former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It was taken Aug. 3, 2005, by AFP photographer Atta Kenare in Tehran, Iran’s capital city.

The image of Obama was taken May 8, 2009, by White House photographer Pete Souza. It shows Obama in the Oval Office bending down to let a staff member's son, 5-year-old Jacob Philadelphia, touch his hair to see if it felt like his own.

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In an Instagram video from May 27, 2022, Obama reconnected with Philadelphia, who at that point was about to graduate from high school. Obama recalled the moment the photo was taken, saying it "embodied one of the hopes that I had when I first started running for office," that when young people saw someone in the Oval Office who looked like them, "they would see the world open up for them."

Obama was criticized during his first term as president for appearing to bow while meeting Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah in 2009.

Reuters and PolitiFact also debunked the claim.

USA TODAY reached out to the social media user who shared the post for comment but did not immediately receive a response.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Image of Obama bowing to Iran's Ali Khamenei is altered | Fact check