The aftermath of the Paris terror attacks included calls for calm and solidarity—and some dangerous rumour-mongering and distortions.
Amid the swirl of misinformation, a Sikh man from Canada found himself accused by the internet of being one of the terrorists in the deadly Paris attacks.
It began after a bathroom selfie of Veerender Jubbal was photoshopped and then put into circulation online on Saturday (Nov. 14). The original image was simple: Jubbal was standing in a bathroom, holding an iPad and taking a self-portrait off the mirror.
The photograph was doctored to add a vest on Jubbal’s torso, with some visible wires. His iPad was turned into a Quran.
Apart from the fact that Jubbal’s turban clearly identifies him as Sikh, there were a number of other inconsistencies in the photoshopped hoax—including North American power outlets and a sex toy, as identified by BuzzFeed. Also, as the Sydney Morning Herald succinctly explained, “Korans generally cannot take selfies.”
Nonetheless, the hoax was convincing enough for La Razon—a major Spanish daily newspaper—which carried Jubbal’s picture on its frontpage (top left corner) on Sunday.
A number of other European outlets also carried the photoshopped image.
Although the perpetrators of the hoax haven’t been identified, Jubbal holds GamerGate—an online movement within the video game community—responsible for the incident. And this isn’t the first time GamerGate has attacked Jubbal: About 10 months ago, members of the group apparently flooded Jubbal’s Twitter timeline with images from 9/11.
After 9/11, many Sikhs in America were mistaken for Muslims. There were multiple attacks on Sikh men following the terror attack, including the murder of Arizona gas station owner Balbir Singh Sodhi and the assault on a Sikh temple in Oak Creek.