Video of Cristano Ronaldo lookalike reading Koran fools Facebook users

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A video has surfaced in Facebook posts that falsely claim it shows football star Cristiano Ronaldo reading the Koran, the holy book of Islam. It is the latest misinformation linking the Portuguese forward -- who has spoken publicly about his Catholic faith -- to Islam. The man in the footage is actually a TikTok star called Bewar Abdullah, who has attracted media attention and hundreds of thousands of followers because of his resemblance to the player.

"Cristiano Ronaldo. God willing, this is good news! At first, I could not believe this was Ronaldo," reads a Bengali-language Facebook post shared on April 23 in a group with more than 60,000 members.

The video shows a man looking at a copy of what appears to be the Koran while sitting on the floor of a mosque.

A screenshot of the false Facebook post.

Ronaldo, who made his debut for Saudi club Al Nassr in January, has long been targeted by misinformation about his supposed relationship with Islam.

AFP previously debunked posts falsely claiming he converted to Islam or that he proclaimed his love for Islam during an interview in Dubai.

Ronaldo has spoken publicly about his Catholic faith, telling Italian daily Gazzetta dello Sport in 2018 he goes to church every week (archived link).

The video purportedly showing the footballer reading the Koran attracted more than 10,000 views on Facebook, including in Bengali posts here and here; as well as in English and Urdu posts.

TikTok star

A keyword search and reverse image search of the video traced the clip to a TikTok post from Bewar Abdullah on May 7, 2021 (archived link).

The TikTok clip -- captioned "Hello" -- features the soundtrack "Al Kafirun - Ahmed Al Ajamy", referring to a chapter of the Koran and a popular reciter of the holy book.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in the false Facebook posts (left) and Bewar Abdullah's TikTok video (right):

Screenshot comparison of the video in false Facebook posts (left) and Bewar Abdullah's TikTok video (right)

Abdullah's TikTok video, which is of higher quality than the clip circulating on Facebook, shows a sign in the background that reads "Al-Judi Centre", referring to a mosque in Birmingham, central England.

Abdullah, who has more than 1.8 million followers on the platform, has been featured in various media reports highlighting his resemblance to Ronaldo.

The New York Post reported that he "gets booked for children's parties thanks to his likeness to Ronaldo" and that it was his "dream" to meet the player (archived link).

He can be seen in other TikTok videos posing in a football kit and meeting fans (archived links here and here).

May 26, 2023 This story was updated to clarify that the same video was shared in an Urdu-language post, not an Arabic one.