Sikh man wrongly depicted as Paris attacker, faces online fury

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Nov 16, 2015 16:48 IST
The image of Veerender Jubbal, which was changed to show him holding a Quran and what appeared to be a suicide vest spread quickly in the wake of Friday’s carnage.

A Sikh man from Canada was at the centre of a social media storm after a photo of him was digitally altered to portray him as one of the suicide bombers involved in the Paris attacks.

The image of Veerender Jubbal, which was changed to show him holding a Quran and what appeared to be a suicide vest, spread so quickly in the wake of Friday’s carnage that it was published on the front page of one of Spain’s largest newspapers and used by two Italian newspapers. An Italian TV channel with nearly 2 million Twitter followers also posted the image.

The image, which began to circulate on Saturday afternoon, was even shared on the Telegram messenger app by Khilafah News, a pro-Islamic State group. Several posts on social media described Jubbal as a “Sikh convert to Islam”.

The Madrid-based La Razón included a picture of Canadian man Veerender Jubbal, with the caption “one of the terrorists”.

However, some users on social media did a little digging around and found that the digitally altered image was based on a bathroom selfie of Jubbal from August, wearing a turban and holding an iPad in his hands.

Although it isn’t clear who edited Jubbal’s image, reports have suggested that it was his vehement criticism of the Gamergate movement that made him the target for this particular smear campaign.

Gamergate is an online movement that centers around sexism and misogyny in video game culture. It started in August 2014 when a former boyfriend of game developer Zoe Quinn wrote a 9,000-word blog post accusing her of entering into relationships with video game journalists for positive coverage of her text-based game, Depression Quest. Quinn was the victim of death threats and cyber-bullying when she was trying to publish the game and eventually had to leave her house, fearing for her life.

Jubbal took to Twitter on Saturday to clear things up with this post: “People are editing, and photoshopping my selfies as if I am one of the people causing the issues/problems in Paris.”

He pointed out the altered image had spread to the point where others had to tweet that it was photoshopped. Jubbal also tweeted that a cousin had called him from India after seeing the image.

Jubbal offered to speak to journalists to clear his name as scores of people from around the world tweeted supporting him.

But through it all, Jubbal kept his cool, saying that he was still valuable, rad and “cute as gosh”.

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