New York: A Sikh-Canadian, who was shown as a terrorist behind Paris attacks in a photoshopped picture, has slammed those responsible for circulating the "false image", saying people are playing into the hands of the terrorists by painting entire faiths with the same brushstroke.
Veerender Jubbal has received strong support from various quarters including Sikh rights groups which said it is "disgusting" to see "how Sikhs become targets of hate."
In a statement to the rights group Sikh Coalition, Jubbal described his doctored photograph as a "despicable action," which was then quickly made worse when some international news outlets which decided to share the image as truth.
"When we paint entire faiths and communities with the same brushstroke, we further give terrorists exactly what they want. We're strongest in the face of terror and bigotry when we stand together. This false image is an opportunity for all of us to hopefully grow together in our shared understanding for one another," Jubbal said.
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 Quran.
The doctored photograph was posted on social media, and immediately went viral. It was subsequently published by several European media outlets including La Razon in Spain which has since apologised and SkyTG24 in Italy.
The original photo shows Jubbal 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," Arnhold Global Health Institute Director at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Prabhjot Singh?told NBC News.
The Sikh Coalition tweeted "viral photo of Sikh selfie doctored to look like Paris ISIS terrorist. How Sikhs become targets of hate. Disgusted."
Asserting that the photograph is fake, Jubbal said while the photograph and its circulation has personally very disturbing for him, "the broader impact of this image going viral for the Sikh community is what upsets me the most."
Jubbal demanded an apology from the media outlets that ran the image and said they should also take the time to learn and educate their readers about the Sikh faith, the fifth largest religion in the world.