U.K. tourists feared public attacks after Vancouver mall photos leaked

Three British tourists are speaking out after an internal police bulletin was leaked to media, describing the “Middle Eastern” men as “suspicious” for photographing doors at Vancouver’s Pacific Centre Mall.

See Full Article

In fact, two of the men were in town for treatment for visual impairments. They say they snapped the photos to zoom in later and remember their trip in better detail. One is a 14-year-old boy. All three are of South-Asian descent.

The boy’s father says the widely circulated photos and ensuing public speculation have caused distress to the teen.

“He’s not an adult; he’s 14 years old. It’s going to cause him some kind of trauma,” Mohammed Sharaz, who owns a pizza joint in Britain, told CTV Vancouver.

The trio hasn’t left their apartment since Friday for fear that they could be recognized from the widely circulated images.

“We’re really careful. We have to look around. Is somebody looking at us? What’s happening? We haven’t been out since yesterday,” Sharaz said.

And while he says he doesn’t understand how the internal memo got leaked, Sharaz insists he doesn’t blame police.

“The way the police handled it themselves I think is fine, it’s justified, because there’s a lot of evil that goes on in the world,” he said.

Instead, Sharaz says he blames the media organizations at the centre of the mishap.

“I'm just blaming the news -- the people who broadcast our pictures without blurring our faces," he said.

The incident unfolded Thursday after Vancity Buzz, a Vancouver news website, published an article describing the incident. The website said it received the information and surveillance photos from an internal police memo.

The story was quickly circulated online and picked up by other news organizations.

Vancouver Police Chief Adam Palmer said that the internal document was not intended to be made public. He added that the description of the three men as “Middle Eastern” was not racial profiling, pointing out that police typically include race when describing suspects.

Meanwhile, a Vancouver journalist is calling on police to formally apologize to the three travellers.

“I felt extremely sad that we had taken two handicapped people and turned them into essentially part of a terrorist investigation by innuendo,” said journalist Salim Jiwa.

“The police need to apologize, the mayor needs to apologize, and the police simply shrugged off the idea that one of their terrorism memos had been leaked out,” he said.

Leaders in the Arab community are pointing out the problematic link made between the “Middle Eastern” description of the men and suspicions of terrorism, a connection that may foster hatred and bigotry.

“That can only add fuel to the fire and exasperate the potential hate crime or xenophobia or racism. So people need to be very careful,” said Mohamed Boudjenane of the Canadian Arab Federation.

However, Sharaz insists the incident has not changed his positive perceptions of Canada or Vancouver.

"My opinion hasn't changed," he said. "There's a very small number of terrorists that have given Muslims a bad name. I don't want one person or one media leak to say the whole of Vancouver, the whole of Canada is bad."

His son Salahuddin Sharaz, is diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic disease that seriously impairs his vision. He and family friend Mohammed Kareem, 34, have been receiving treatment from Dr. Weidong Yu at the Wellspring Clinic for Holistic Medicine.

With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Shannon Patterson and the Canadian Press



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Can an Indigenous police force replace RCMP on Wet'suwet'en land? 'Not tomorrow,' Blair says

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- After the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake offered to replace RCMP officers on Wet’suwet’en territory with their own Indigenous peacekeeping force in order to help satisfy one of the main concerns of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said such a solution wouldn’t happen any time soon. Source
  • Canadians find thousands of dollars in unclaimed cheques on CRA website

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- A little known feature on the Canada Revenue Agency’s website is leading people to hundreds, even thousands, of dollars in unclaimed government cheques. The recently released tool, found in the My Account portal, allows you to view and collect any cheques you may have missed from the tax agency, dating back as long as you have been filing taxes. Source
  • Calgary police now admit 2 officers used controversial Clearview AI facial-recognition software

    Canada News CBC News
    After previously denying they had used a controversial facial-recognition app that harvested billions of personal photos from social media, Calgary police now say some officers did, in fact, use the Clearview AI software. "The Calgary Police Service does not use Clearview AI in any official capacity," police said in a written statement sent to CBC News on Friday afternoon. Source
  • Best director win for Polanski prompts boos, walkouts at César Awards in France

    World News CBC News
    Roman Polanski, who faces accusations of rape, won France's César Award for best directing for his film An Officer and a Spy on Friday, prompting several actors to walk out of the ceremony in protest. Polanski was not at the event, the biggest night in French cinema's calendar, saying earlier that he feared for his safety. Source
  • See you at the Supreme Court, Ottawa responds, after Alberta demands carbon tax be lifted

    Canada News CBC News
    On Monday, Alberta's top court declared the federal carbon tax unconstitutional. On Wednesday, the province's justice minister demanded that the federal government remove the levy and reimburse what Albertans have already paid. On Friday, the federal government responded: See you in court. Source
  • See you at the Supreme Court, Ottawa says after Alberta demands carbon tax be killed

    Canada News CBC News
    On Monday, Alberta's top court declared the federal carbon tax unconstitutional. On Wednesday, the province's justice minister demanded that the federal government remove the levy and reimburse what Albertans have already paid. On Friday, the federal government responded: See you in court. Source
  • Bundle of joy who can't wait for Mom to get to hospital makes grand entrance in hotel lobby

    Canada News CTV News
    HANWELL, N.B. -- Yesterday's storm brought more than snow and ice as a little bundle of joy wasn't waiting for Mom to make it to the hospital. Staff at a Fredericton-area hotel jumped into action when a guest went into labour. Source
  • Dog found with glue in his ears and legs tied together ‘making a quick turnaround’: vet

    World News CTV News
    TORONTO -- A dog left for dead in an Oklahoma field with his legs strapped together and glue poured into his ears has survived and is making a “quick turnaround,” a veterinarian says. The Humane Society of Tulsa was contacted by local police on Thursday about a mutt that was left stranded with chemical burns on his face and food wrappers shoved into his ears with glue. Source
  • U.S., Taliban set peace signing for America's longest war

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- America's longest war may finally be nearing an end. The United States and the Islamists it toppled from power in Afghanistan are poised to sign a peace deal Saturday after a conflict that outlasted two U.S. Source
  • 'Greta' decal condemned in House of Commons

    Canada News CTV News
    EDMONTON -- WARNING: The content below may be distressing to readers. A disturbing decal which appeared to use the likeness of 17-year-old climate change activist Greta Thunberg has been condemned in Canada's House of Commons. Source