[UPDATED] Someone Tried to Photoshop Sikh Games Critic Veerender Jubbal to Look Like a Paris Attacker, Major News Outlets Fell For It

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Last Friday there were some fleeting moments in which the best of humanity shone through the tragedy of the attacks in Paris, Beirut, and Baghdad. Sikh temples opened up to Parisians displaced by violence, and discourse on Twitter and elsewhere lamented Westerners’ inability to care about terrorist attacks on people of color. For a period, the attacks brought out some of the most thoughtful, inclusive aspects of humanity, and of the online networks we’ve created. But they also brought out the worst.

On Saturday afternoon, an image that many Twitter users believed to be a picture of a Paris attacker wearing a suicide bomb vest began circulating. The image was even shared by Khilafah News, a pro-ISIS but unofficial channel on Telegram, the app over which ISIS took credit for Friday’s Paris attack. Still, many social media users were also rightfully critical of the image:

Buzzfeed points out that there are numerous aspects of the picture that should have made it clear the image wasn’t of a European-based member of a radical Islamist sect, including a possible dildo in the background, a Sikh turban, and North American electric plugs in the picture’s foreground.

Canadian games critic Veerender Jubbal revealed that the picture was a photoshopped one of him, and tweeted out the original:

Jubbal also implied that he believed the photoshop was the work of a Gamergate supporter.

Jubbal, the creator of #StopGamerGate2014, left Twitter for a time last February due to Gamergate harassment, including comparisons between him and ISIS:

Prior to his Twitter hiatus, Jubbal was also harassed by Gamergate supporters sending him pictures of the Twin Towers falling, and sent abusive messages about Sikhism.

Despite the obvious inauthenticity of the image, even large international outlets ran the photoshopped picture. On Sunday morning, Madrid-based newspaper La Razón ran the image on its front page with the caption “one of the terrorists.” Italian TV channel TG24 shared the image on its website and with its 1.98 million Twitter followers:

Jubbal wrote that the image appeared in numerous other outlets as well:

It’s not clear who was responsible for creating the photoshop, but journalists and social media members who spread the picture without incredulity are also to blame for their racism, Islamophobia, and ignorance of Sikhism. The photo reveals just as much about our lack of understanding about the people we other, and the dangers of implicitly trusting the media, as it might about the members of a specific hashtag.

Regardless, it’s worth pointing out that Jubbal’s harassment did mark a new low for some high-profile supporters of Gamergate, regardless of whether or not the image was originally created by a Gamergater. In a request for comment sent to Jubbal and published on Breitbart, Milo Yiannopoulos asked Jubbal if he “can appreciate the irony of your well-known opposition to a movement that advocates for better ethics and standards in journalism,” and what he would say now to “people who absurdly equate innocent Gamergate supporters with terrorists.”

Jubbal requests that journalists wanting to talk to him about the incident reach out to him over Twitter. We contacted him there earlier this morning and have yet to hear back, but will update this article if we do.

Update: Jubbal has now released a statement, you can read it here.

Update #2, 3:30 ET: Vice has identified the creator of the photoshopped image as a Gamergater who has since left Twitter. You can read details on the individual and more information about the image here.

(via The Guardian)

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