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

  • Second abortion-related film to be shown at N.B. high school theatre

    Canada News CTV News
    SAINT JOHN, N.B. - A month after the showing of a controversial anti-abortion film at a high school theatre in New Brunswick, opponents of that film are screening a documentary on access to abortions at the same school tonight. Source
  • Cory Booker may end 2020 campaign if fundraising doesn't pick up

    World News CTV News
    DES MOINES, Iowa -- Lagging in polling and fundraising, Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker said Saturday he may end his run unless donations from supporters increase quickly. "I don't believe people should stay in this just to stay in it. Source
  • Man and woman dead after attempted murder on Niagara River

    Canada News CTV News
    FORT ERIE, Ont. -- Two people have died after an attempted murder on the Niagara River that local police say also sent a child to hospital on Friday evening. Niagara Regional Police say they responded to a report of three people in the water in distress near the area of Jarvis Street and Niagara Boulevard in Fort Erie, Ont. Source
  • Democrats condemn Trump over Ukraine allegations. But what will they do?

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON - A whistleblower's complaint over U.S. President Donald Trump's interactions with a foreign leader is testing the power Democrats can use against a Republican president who so brazenly ignores protocol and presidential norms. Democrats were unanimous in their condemnation of Trump for going to extraordinary lengths to tear down a chief political rival by asking the new leader of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden's son. Source
  • Jason Kenney: Alberta will drop more inter-province trade barriers

    Canada News CTV News
    SAINT JOHN, N.B. - Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says his government is eliminating more of exemptions to a free-trade agreement between provinces. Kenney announced during a speech to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Saint John, N.B. Source
  • Green Party would decriminalize all drug possession if elected

    Canada News CBC News
    The Green Party would decriminalize all drug possession if elected in October, leader Elizabeth May said Saturday on the campaign trial in Winnipeg. May said legalizing possession of all drugs is necessary to curb the opioid crisis in Canada. "We must stop treating drug addiction as a criminal issue. Source
  • Climate activists step up protests in Britain and France

    World News CTV News
    PARIS -- Environmental activists in Britain and France stepped up campaigns Saturday to get their governments to confront climate change with greater urgency, part of a week of global climate actions. Thousands of people marched in south Paris to press French President Emmanuel Macron, world leaders at the United Nations and multinational companies to reduce greenhouse emissions faster, Source
  • Biden calls for transcript of Trump's phone call at centre of whistleblower complaint

    World News CBC News
    U.S. President Donald Trump urged the new leader of Ukraine this summer to investigate the son of former vice-president Joe Biden, a person familiar with the matter said. Democrats condemned what they saw as a clear effort to damage a political rival, now at the centre of an explosive whistleblower complaint against Trump. Source
  • Jailed former Somali child refugee to be released, transferred to treatment centre

    Canada News CBC News
    A former Somali refugee and foster child who is facing deportation will be released from the Edmonton Remand Centre where he has been held since March and will be heading to a treatment centre. Abdilahi Elmi had been scheduled for deportation in August because of his criminal record, until the UN petitioned Canada to delay his departure. Source
  • U.S. police assess rise in threat tips after 3 mass killings

    World News CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- It had all the makings of a massacre. Six guns, including a Colt AR-15 rifle. About 1,000 rounds of ammunition. A bulletproof vest. And an angry Southern California man who threated to kill his co-workers at a hotel and its guests. Source