TORONTO —; A Toronto-area man is speaking out after a selfie he took last year was digitally altered and re-purposed as an image of one of the terrorists responsible for the deadly attacks in Paris on Friday.
A photo of Veerender Jubbal, which he had originally posted in August 2014, was altered to show him holding a Quran and wearing an explosive vest before making the rounds on social media over the weekend and was even published by some news organizations.
A Spanish newspaper issued an apology Sunday for publishing the photo with a caption that said Jubbal was one of those responsible for the Paris attacks.
Jubbal took to 老域名怎么购买 to defend himself and said in a statement on Monday that the past 48 hours had been “deeply disturbing.”
“Over the weekend, a photograph was doctored to suggest that I was one of the terrorists associated with the Paris tragedy,” he said in a statement posted on The Sikh Coalition’s website.
“This despicable action was then quickly made worse when some international news outlets decided to share the image as truth.”
Jubbal said he was a member of the Sikh community, had never been to Paris and lives in Canada.
He added that the situation put him in a “bad position” and that he could be targeted due to the misinformation.
“The broader impact of this image going viral for the Sikh community is what upsets me the most,” Jubbal said, adding that Sikhs are continuously mistakenly associated with terrorist networks.
“The Sikh community has faced significant violence and discrimination following major terrorist attacks because of our religious appearance. We must be better than this.”
Jubbal asked media outlets that published the doctored photo to immediately issue a retraction and an apology.
“When we paint entire faiths and communities with the same brushstroke, we further give terrorists exactly what they want,” he said.
“We’re strongest in the face of terror and bigotry when we stand together. This false image is an opportunity for all of us to hopefully grow together in our shared understanding for one another.”
Local Sikh community activist Parminder Singh said the issue goes deeper than just members of the Sikh community.
“There’s a huge lack of understanding when it comes to non-Caucasian religions or non-Caucasian cultures,” he said.
“This day and age of social media and digital media, I think the one thing we need to become weary of is non-credible sources and the role that media actually plays.”
Singh said that in times where security risks are at an all time high, consumers of digital media “forget who we really are.”
“I think it’s easy for those who really want to manipulate things and manipulate events to take advantage of that and we need to be very cautious of that,” he said.
“Crime is done by the criminal, it’s not a group, it’s not a religion … and we can’t paint everyone with the same brush.”
Digital imaging expert and videographer Keifer Wiseman said it would be easy to fool someone with an “untrained eye” into thinking the photo was legitimate.
“It’s definitely a competent Photoshopping job and if you’re just looking at it for 10 seconds, like most people do when they’re consuming social media, you wouldn’t think twice about whether it’s fake or not,” he said.
“A Photoshop like this could cause a lot of damage to somebody’s reputation, because people see it and they might recognize the person and they’ll be forever associated with this image, even if it becomes debunked it will still follow them throughout their entire life.”
Jubbal said on 老域名怎么购买 that the use of the image by international news outlets constituted “libel.” He added that he had spoken to relatives in India who had seen the photo in a major newspaper there and that the family was considering legal action.
“Learn the difference between me being a Sikh, and a Muslim,” he said.
With files from Angie Seth and Steve Morales