Terrorism comes in many forms. Political agendas may differ in purpose and scale, but they all share the same intent: fostering fear and rage and spreading propaganda, with innocent people as their targets. The victims of the November 13th events in Paris aren't just those that died and were injured in the initial attack. The backlash continues well after the
Terrorism comes in many forms. Political agendas may differ in purpose and scale, but they all share the same intent: fostering fear and rage and spreading propaganda, with innocent people as their targets. The victims of the November 13th events in Paris aren’t just those that died and were injured in the initial attack. The backlash continues well after the attack, fueled by prejudice and hate and other groups jumping in on the tragic situation created by the terrorist group known as ISIS to further their own agendas. Most recently, supporters of GamerGate pounced on the opportunity to portray a critic of their movement as one of the perpetrators of the Paris attacks.
Veerender Jubbal, a Canadian citizen who has never even been to Paris, has been an outspoken critic of the gaming industry and its lack of diversity and has spoken out against GamerGate specifically. He has been the target of online harassment since his creation of the #StopGamerGate2014 hashtag, but two GamerGate supporters, @Bl4ptrep and @turd_wartsniff–whose accounts have recently been deleted–have used the Paris attacks to up the hate campaign against him. According to Vice.com’s research and archived tweets, @Bl4ptrep and @turd_wartsniff began this process back in August when Jubbal posted a selfie (above right) that was then photoshopped and redistributed online. Following the attacks, the photoshopped image was posted again, identifying Jubbal as one of ISIS’s suicide bombers in the Paris attacks. Fake messages from Jubbal were tweeted. Fake accounts were created.
News agencies around the world ignored what ought to have been obvious discrepancies–the most notable being the magical selfie-taking Qu’ran that Jubbal is holding in the doctored image–publishing his picture in response to the attacks. The images have since been retracted, but the damage is already done. Harassment against Jubbal has increased exponentially and he’s received numerous threats that now extend well beyond the gaming community.
While Jubbal seems to maintain a positive attitude at most times despite the harassment he’s received–his basic philosophy on life can be summed up by his favourite word: “Gosh”–it’s unsurprising that his Twitter response to this turn of events might be a bit more harsh. He’s since made an official statement through the Sikh Coalition:
“Over the weekend, a photograph was doctored to suggest that I was one of the terrorists associated with the Paris tragedy. This despicable action was then quickly made worse when some international news outlets decided to share the image as truth. Let me be clear – the photograph is a fake and I am not affiliated with terrorism of any kind.
While the past 48 hours have been deeply disturbing on a personal level, 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. The Sikh community has faced significant violence and discrimination following major terrorist attacks because of our religious appearance. We must be better than this.
The dark horror of violence in Paris and Beirut last week is mourned by 25 million Sikhs and over 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide. I ask that the media outlets that ran my image immediately retract my photo 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. To start, here are ten things I wish everyone knew about Sikhism.
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.”
As is the standard practice when GamerGate–a movement that has become synonymous with misogynistic online harassment against women in gaming specifically and anyone who criticizes gaming or GamerGate in general–is identified as the source of harassment, representatives of the movement have done their best to distance themselves from the hoax and paint themselves as the good guys, calling the disinformation “deplorable, irresponsible, absolutely not funny trolling of [a] GamerGate critic.” GamerGate representatives have offered their support to Jubbal in one breath, and yet readily point out the “karma” for his anti-GamerGate statements in another. GamerGate supporters have chimed in accordingly, continuing the harassment with the rhetoric of ‘he deserves it.’
In a world where terrorists are killing innocent people on a daily basis, GamerGaters’ efforts to use both this hoax as well as the denial of it to further online harassment of an individual is what is truly irresponsible and deplorable.
Writes Rich Stanton at Vice.com:
“And of course ISIS, that most social media-savvy of groups, must be delighted that Gamergate is sowing confusion around who its members are.”
Let’s recognize the real enemy here. Disinformation, divisive tactics, and the perpetuation of ignorance is exactly what a group like ISIS wants in order to fuel more hate and encourage retaliation. To so willingly choose to play into such an agenda continues to show that GamerGate is not and never will be the ethical movement it somehow believes itself to be.