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

  • North Carolina lawmakers announce deal to end 'bathroom bill' standoff

    World News CTV News
    RALEIGH, N.C. - North Carolina Republican lawmakers said Wednesday night that they have an agreement with Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper on legislation to resolve a standoff over the state's "bathroom bill." GOP leaders announced the new legislation would be debated and voted on Thursday. Source
  • 13 killed in bus-truck collision in southwestern Texas

    World News CBC News
    A small shuttle bus carrying Texas church members home from a retreat collided head-on with a pickup truck, killing 13 people Wednesday on a two-lane highway in southwestern Texas, officials said. All of the victims who died were senior adults who attended First Baptist Church of New Braunfels, Texas. Source
  • Inquest jury to begin deliberations into Regina woman's laundry-chute death

    Canada News CBC News
    The lawyer representing the family of Nadine Machiskinic said the coroner's inquest established at least a couple key facts. The 29-year-old mother of four fell 10 storeys down a Regina hotel laundry chute to her death. Source
  • Toronto man's home trashed, belongings stolen after Airbnb rental

    Canada News CTV News
    A Toronto man who rented his apartment to a stranger using the website Airbnb says he returned home to find it trashed and $21,000 worth of possessions missing. Mathew Lyn says the thieves stole camera equipment, a drone, clothes, shoes -- even his luggage. Source
  • Mexican judge suspended amid outrage over sexual assault ruling

    World News CBC News
    Prosecutors in Mexico are appealing a court ruling that dismissed sex crime charges because there was no proof the suspect acted "with lascivious intent," and judicial authorities announced Wednesday that the judge in the case had been suspended. Source
  • Kenn Borek Air crews honoured with Smithsonian award for perilous South Pole rescue mission

    Canada News CBC News
    A 10-hour mission from Calgary to the South Pole to rescue two sick workers had Calgary-based air crews receiving a Smithsonian award in Washington on Wednesday night. Last June, two Twin Otter Kenn Borek Air aircraft flew from Calgary to Chile to Rothera, Antarctica. Source
  • 12-year-old with tomato business now teaching other kids

    Canada News CTV News
    A 12-year-old boy who successfully launched a business as a child is now passing his entrepreneurial knowledge on to other kids in his community. Parker Metz says he got the idea for his tomato-growing business after his mother accidentally grew too many plants. Source
  • Bystanders say no reason to shoot mother moose in middle of Alberta city

    Canada News CTV News
    ST. ALBERT, Alta. -- Alberta Fish and Wildlife officers are being criticized for killing a cow moose in a city north of Edmonton. The cow moose and her two calves were in a park near a busy intersection in St. Source
  • Ivanka Trump to become unpaid White House employee

    World News Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON — Ivanka Trump is officially joining her father’s administration as an unpaid employee, after her plans to serve in a more informal capacity were questioned by ethics experts. The first daughter announced Wednesday that she will serve as an unpaid employee in the White House, saying she had “heard the concerns some have with my advising the President in my personal capacity. Source
  • Mexican state prosecutor charged with drug smuggling in U.S.

    World News CTV News
    SAN DIEGO -- The attorney general for the western Mexican state of Nayarit has been arrested in Southern California on charges of drug smuggling. An indictment unsealed in New York on Tuesday charges Edgar Veytia with conspiracy to smuggle cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine to the United States from January 2013 to last month. Source