The Sikh community is speaking out about the posting of a doctored photograph falsely identifying a Sikh-Canadian man, Veerender Jubbal, as one of the terrorists involved in the coordinated attacks in Paris last Friday.
The doctored photograph was posted on social media, went viral, and was subsequently published by several European media outlets, including La Razón in Spain, which has since apologized, and SkyTG24 in Italy.
“While the past 48 hours have been deeply disturbing on a personal level,” wrote Veerender Jubbal in a statement to the Sikh Coalition, “the broader impact of this image going viral for the Sikh community is what upsets me the most. Sikh articles of faith, such as our turbans and beards, represent a commitment to universal justice, equality, and helping others (seva), yet Sikhs continue to be mistakenly and offensively associated with terrorist networks abroad.”
An old photograph of Jubbal holding an iPad was doctored to add what appears to be a suicide bomb vest. The iPad in the photograph was changed to look like a Qur’an, and what looks like a sex toy was also added in the background.
The original photo shows that Jubbal is standing in front of a mirror with North American-style electrical outlets appearing in his environment. Jubbal is also wearing a Sikh dastaar.
“By Photoshopping an image of a Sikh man to depict him as a terrorist, and worse, amplifying it through social and print media in the guise of legitimate news, an entire group of people are subjected to discrimination and hate violence,” Dr. Prabhjot Singh, Director of the Arnhold Global Health Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, told NBC News. “I know this first hand, both as an advocate for quantifying the impact of hate crimes on Sikhs, Muslims and other targeted groups, but also as a person who had his jaw fractured in a hate crime.”
Known for being nice and polite, and who describes himself as “cute as gosh,” Jubbal suspected and Vice confirmed that Gamergate trolls were behind the doctored photograph, because he has often been attacked for advocating for diversity in video games.
Jubbal asked media outlets that published his image to immediately retract the doctored photograph and apologize, “but also take the time to learn and educate their readers about the Sikh faith, the fifth largest religion in the world. They should read about the way Sikh gurdwaras opened their doors to help the victims and survivors of the Paris attacks, and how we stand side by side with the global community in condemning brutal acts of violence.”