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This Canadian's Photo Was Doctored to Make Him Look Like a Paris Attacker — And Some Media Bought It

Veerender Jubbal took to Twitter over the weekend to clear his name after social media users and media outlets picked up the photoshopped picture and spread it, wrongly concluding he was a Paris bomber.

by Hilary Beaumont
Nov 16 2015, 10:25pm

Imagen vía Grasswire Factcheck/Twitter

An innocent Canadian became the victim of a social media prank following Friday's Paris attacks when an unknown person photoshopped him to make him look like a suicide bomber.

Veerender Jubbal took to Twitter over the weekend to clear his name after social media users and media outlets, including Italian and Spanish news outlets and an unofficial pro-Islamic State account on Telegram, picked up the photoshopped picture and spread it, wrongly concluding he was behind the Paris bombings that killed 129 people.

In his original selfie, the Sikh man wears a turban and plaid shirt, and holds an iPad used to snap the photo in the bathroom mirror. In the photoshopped version, his iPad is altered to look like the Qur'an, his plaid shirt is covered by what appears to be an explosive vest, and an object that resembles a dildo appears in the background of the photo.

"Learn the difference between me being a Sikh, and a Muslim," Jubbal tweeted in part on Saturday in response to initial online harassment.

Jubbal declined to comment to VICE News about the incident, but did verify over the phone that the tweets were his.

On Sunday, as the situation worsened, Jubbal tweeted that his cousin in India saw the photo in India Times. "We might sue, I guess," he wrote.

"This whole thing puts me in a bad position in the sense, where I could be harmed and/or hurt due to this," he tweeted shortly after. "This is libel from news, and TV."

"In gauging this entire incident — millions upon millions of people have seen the photoshopped images, and have placed me as a terrorist," he said.

Earlier this year, anonymous Twitter accounts harassed Jubbal online over his turban and sent him photos of the twin towers. When he tweeted about it, an anonymous account replied "Maybe your people shouldn't have blown up the twin towers then."

In the wake of the attacks, French authorities have identified a number of suspects. Police agencies are on the lookout for Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian extremist they suspect is behind the Paris plot.

French authorities also suspect two brothers, Salah and Ibrahim Abdeslam of being involved. They believe the former is still at large, and the latter died when he blew up his suicide vest.

Police have also identified Ismael Omar Mostefai and Samy Amimour as two of the men who died when they attacked the Bataclan concert hall.

Follow Hilary Beaumont on Twitter: @hilarybeaumont