Two men and a teenage boy aren’t pleased with the Vancouver Police Department and local media after their photos were publicly flagged for the wrong reason!
Mohammed Sharaz, his 14-year-old son Salahuddin and friend Mohammed Kareem, all visitors from the UK, were observed taking photos of the entrances and exits of Pacific Centre mall in Vancouver on Tuesday.
The shopping centre alerted Vancouver Police who leaked photos of the trio to the media, who published the photos and asked anybody with information to contact the authorities. Police described the men as “Middle-Eastern looking” at a press conference held Friday. Much like a similar instance in Toronto late last year involving suspicious men snapping photos at Union Station, police just wanted to talk to them.
As it turns out, Salahuddin and Mohammed Kareem both suffer from retinitis pigmentosa, a condition which causes vision loss. They’re being treated at the Wellspring Clinic for Holistic Medicine. The men take photos so they can get a better, close-up look at their surroundings.
When the trio discovered they were wanted men, they decided to hole up in their hotel room to avoid harassment.
The men have now been cleared, and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson has apologized.
Kareem pointed out to reporters that it doesn’t help that they’re Middle-Eastern and have beards.
Sharaz told CBC news that he doesn’t blame the police for what happened. In fact, he praises them, saying that “what the police did, I’m perfectly fine with that. Even if they’d come and arrested us I would have been fine with that.”
But he is considering legal action against Vancity Buzz, the media outlet that kicked off the hunt for the trio. Vancity Buzz’s editor in chief Farhan Mohamed said the story was an important one to publish, at it was in the public interest.
What do you think? Do you think the authorities did the right thing flagging these men, given the terrorist threats that exist in the world today? Does the public have a right to know what’s going on?