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

  • Bhutan fully vaccinates 90 per cent of eligible adults within a week

    World News CTV News
    GAUHATI, INDIA -- The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has fully vaccinated 90 percent of its eligible adult population within just seven days, its health ministry said Tuesday. The tiny country, wedged between India and China and home to nearly 800,000 people, began giving out second doses on July 20 in a mass drive that has been hailed by UNICEF as "arguably the fastest vaccination campaign to be executed during a pandemic. Source
  • Clashes on Armenia-Azerbaijan border leave 3 dead, 4 wounded

    World News CTV News
    YEREVAN, ARMENIA -- Armenia's Defense Ministry said Wednesday that three of its troops were killed and two more were wounded in clashes with Azerbaijani forces on the border between the two ex-Soviet nations, which have been locked in a decades-long tug-of-war over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Source
  • Tokyo sets another virus record days after Summer Games begin

    World News CTV News
    TOKYO -- Tokyo reported 3,177 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, setting an all-time high and exceeding 3,000 for the first time days after the start of the Olympics. The new cases exceeded the earlier record of 2,848 set the previous day and brought the total for the Japanese capital to 206,745 since the pandemic began early last year. Source
  • Access requester told to wait five years for public health agency head's email, texts

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- A requester seeking access to a week's worth of emails and messages from the head of a federal agency embroiled in controversy has been told to wait five years or more for a response under Canada's information law. Source
  • Tropical storm dumps rain on northern Japan, spares Olympics

    World News CTV News
    RIFU, JAPAN -- A tropical storm dumped rain in parts of northern Japan on Wednesday after moving away from the Tokyo region and relieving the Olympic host city of a feared disruption to the games. In Sendai, some trains were delayed and pedestrians braced themselves against the wind on the city streets. Source
  • The fashion industry's 'plus-size' label shames women to fit an unhealthy standard

    Canada News CBC News
    This First Person article is the experience of Laura Sang, a physician in Montreal. For more information about CBC's First Person stories, please see the FAQ. Content warning: This article discusses eating disorders and suicidal ideation. Source
  • COVID-19 spreading faster in Alberta than during peak of 3rd wave

    Canada News CBC News
    Health and infectious disease experts say the rate at which COVID-19 cases are growing in Alberta is alarming, as it spreads faster than it during the height of the pandemic's third wave. The R-value, which represents the number of people infected by each infected person, was 1.48 (with a confidence interval of 1.38-1.59) in Alberta as of Sunday, according to Alberta Health. Source
  • Lac La Ronge Indian Band begins search for residential school graves, with 'a lot of work ahead'

    Canada News CBC News
    WARNING: This story contains distressing details The Lac La Ronge Indian Band has become the latest First Nation in Saskatchewan to begin searching for unmarked graves associated with a local residential school site. "We have a lot of work ahead of us," Chief Tammy Cook-Searson said. Source
  • Tokyo governor urges youth to get vaccinated to slow surge during Olympics

    World News CBC News
    Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike on Wednesday urged younger people to cooperate with measures to bring down the high number of infections and get vaccinated, saying their activities are key to slowing the surge during the Olympics. On Tuesday, the Japanese capital reported 2,848 new cases, exceeding its previous record in January. Source
  • Tokyo governor urges youth to get vaccinated as cases surge to all-time high

    World News CBC News
    Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike on Wednesday urged younger people to cooperate with measures to bring down the high number of infections and get vaccinated, saying their activities are key to slowing the surge during the Olympics. On Tuesday, the Japanese capital reported 2,848 new cases, exceeding its previous record in January. Source