A Sikh man was wrongly identified as the perpetrator of the Nice attack on 14 July, which left 84 people dead during Bastille Day celebrations. This is the second time that Twitter users have falsely accused Veerender Jubbal for being a terrorist, after his image was circulated across the world during the Paris attacks in November 2015.
At the time, Twitter users began circulating a photoshopped selfie of Jubbal, portraying him as wearing a suicide vest and holding a Quran –in fact he was holding up an iPad, and was just wearing a shirt. The Sikh man, who lives in Canada, spoke at the time of how he feared for his safety after media outlets published his photo, believing him to be a terrorist suspect. After the Nice attack, more tweets appeared to have referred to him as the terrorist.
Simran Jeet Singh from the Sikh Coalition, who posted the screenshot of the accusing Twitter post, told IBTimes UK: "This is a form of cyber-terrorism. False accusations like this are meant to put innocent people's lives at risk through the use of fear-mongering tactics and the perpetuation of negative stereotypes."
Singh said that this was far from a "harmless joke" and that publications had put Jubbal's life at risk when it happened the first time, adding that his life has "never been the same" since the incident. In November, Jubbal took to Twitter to defend himself before announcing that he would be leaving Twitter altogether.
Those who tweeted the image of Jubbal after the Nice attack, accusing him of being a terrorist, appear to have had their Twitter accounts suspended. Singh said that the Sikh Coalition would continue to work on education and outreach to avoid similar incidents from occurring in the future.
Singh said: "We must hold those committing such bigoted acts responsible for their bigotry. We saw a quick condemnation of this rumour by the twitter-sphere just in the last two days, as people all over the world came together to defend a fellow human being against hate. We need more of this if we are going to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future."