This past weekend, a Canadian Sikh, Veerender Jubbal, found his likeness plastered across websites and newspapers around the world, after someone Photoshopped a selfie of his to include a suicide vest and a Qur’an. To his horror, Jubbal was being publicly linked to the Paris attacks.
According to Buzzfeed,
An image began to circulate on social media Saturday afternoon claiming to show one of the Paris attackers wearing a suicide bomb vest. The image was even shared by one of the largest — though unofficial — pro-ISIS channels on Telegram, the app that the extremist group used to take credit for the attacks in Paris.
The altered image, at left, makes no sense, in part because Jubbal is clearly wearing a Sikh turban. Why would a Sikh be posing with a Qur’an?
It didn’t matter.
One of the largest papers in Spain published his photo on the front page as if he had been involved in the Paris attacks. The Italian television channel TG24 tweeted Jubbal’s image to its 1.98 million followers.
From there, the hoax quickly spread to other European countries, and then to Asia, Jubbal tweeted yesterday:
Just got a phone call from a cousin in India, and they know about it; and saw the whole thing in India Times.
He believes that trolls at Gamergate, a controversial online community he has frequently criticized, are responsible for the nasty Photoshop job.
P.S.: In 2013, amateur sleuths on Reddit fingered a missing 22-year-old Brown University student called Sunil Tripathi as one of the Boston marathon bombers. In fact, he had had nothing to do with the attack. Buzzfeed played a questionable role in advancing the falsehood that Tripathi was a credible suspect. Maybe we can see the site’s reporting on Veerender Jubbal as a belated act of atonement.