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

  • Feds investing nearly $200M in Mississauga, Ont. plant to mass produce vaccines

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- The federal government will invest almost $200 million in Mississauga, Ont.-based Resilience Biotechnologies to eventually be able to mass produce vaccines domestically. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement on Tuesday, stating that the money will go toward creating and maintaining 500 jobs and 50 co-op positions for young people “to get their foot in the door in a growing sector. Source
  • 'Sheerness when wet': Joe Fresh recalls boys, toddler swim shorts out of 'abundance of caution'

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Loblaws' Joe Fresh clothing brand is voluntarily recalling swim shorts for boys and toddlers over concerns about the sheerness of the trunks’ fabric when wet. Joe Fresh said in a recall notice posted online that there are no safety concerns with the products. Source
  • Ikea recalls select dishes due to risk of breakage and burns

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Ikea Canada has issued a recall for select dishes after the company received reports of some of these products breaking, leading to a possible burn risk. In a notice issued on Tuesday, Ikea Canada said it was recalling the Heroisk and Talrika style plates, bowls, and mugs "due to the potential risk of burns from hot contents upon breakage. Source
  • Container ship is the largest of its kind to visit Canada: Halifax Port Authority

    Canada News CTV News
    HALIFAX -- Port officials in Halifax say the largest container ship to visit a Canadian port has arrived at the city's south-end container terminal. A spokesman for the Port of Halifax says the CMA CGM Marco Polo is 396 metres long and can carry the equivalent of 16,022 containers that are each 20-feet long. Source
  • Investing in new coal, oil and gas projects must stop to hit climate goals, global energy agency says

    World News CBC News
    A report by the International Energy Agency says immediate action is needed to reshape the world's energy sector in order to meet ambitious climate goals by 2050, including ending investments in new coal mines, oil and gas wells. Source
  • Quebec reports 549 new COVID-19 cases, 9 more deaths

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL -- Quebec has 549 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of people infected to 364,396 since the start of the pandemic. The province's health officials also confirmed nine more deaths, a total of 11,050 after it was ruled one death was not related to COVID-19. Source
  • Israel resumes airstrikes on Gaza, as Palestinian militants fire more rockets into Israel

    World News CBC News
    Israel bombarded Gaza with airstrikes and Palestinian militants resumed cross-border rocket fire on Tuesday after a brief overnight lull during which the United Nations sent a small fuel convoy into the enclave, where it says 52,000 people are now displaced. Source
  • Canada marks 25,000 COVID-19 deaths

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Canada has marked 25,000 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic started. The country reached the grim milestone on Tuesday, after Ontario reported an additional 17 deaths related to the disease. Many younger Canadians succumbed to the disease in recent months, as the third COVID-19 wave overwhelmed hospitals, especially in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. Source
  • Ontario reports lowest number of COVID-19 cases in nearly two months with fewer than 1,700 infections logged

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Health officials in Ontario are reporting fewer than 1,700 new cases of COVID-19, marking the lowest single-day total in almost two months. The 1,616 infections recorded Tuesday represent a significant drop from the 2,170 reported by the province a day earlier. Source
  • Experts warn shuttered Australia is becoming a 'hermit nation'

    World News CTV News
    SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA -- Prime Minister Scott Morrison defended his "Fortress Australia" COVID-19 restrictions Tuesday, as experts warned that plans to keep the borders closed for another year will create a "hermit nation." "Everyone is keen to get back to a time that we once knew," the conservative leader said in the face of growing calls for international borders to reopen. Source