The two men and one youth caught up in a police investigation and media leak gone wrong are speaking out about all the attention they unintentionally attracted after photographing parts of a downtown Vancouver mall, simply to see it better.
"These guys can't even see! And you expect them to be pulling off something big," said Mohammed Sharaz, who is in Vancouver with his son, Salahuddin Sharaz, and friend, Mohammed Kareem, both of whom suffer from retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic condition which eventually causes vision loss.
The two are being treated at the Wellspring Clinic for Holistic Medicine by Dr. Weidong Yu. They take photos of many things in order to have the ability to zoom in and see them better.
"Because of this terrorist issue, [people say] 'they got a beard,' that's why they think we're terrorists," said Kareem. "But not everyone is the same, which we need to say. We are not Middle-Eastern, we are Briton."
Since the story broke, the trio hasn't left where they're staying, other than to go to the clinic, over fears they will be harassed if recognized.
On Tuesday, a police memo was leaked to the media showing pictures of the men and youth in Pacific Centre mall holding their phones up, appearing to take photographs. In the document, police described them as looking Middle-Eastern and noted they were seen taking photographs of the mall's exits and entrances. The memo said officers only wanted to speak with them.
But once the memo was leaked to the media, some outlets, including the CBC, published the trio's photographs. That led the Vancouver Police Department to hold a special news conference Friday, addressing the leaked memo and the nuances of why they were looking for the men...Now, don't all you silly "Islamophobes" feel foolish and, yes, embarrassed about "saying something"? How likely are you to avoid doing so in the future lest you jump to the same mistaken conclusion?
Update: Britons with a Pakistani background. Coming to Vancouver to get their incurable eye disease treated via traditional Chinese medicine. Taking photos of mall exits.
I dunno. Still sounds kind of fishy to me.