Bigots make up fake TX mosque claiming they refused to shelter non-Muslims— Imraan Siddiqi (@imraansiddiqi) September 2, 2017
*Not only that, in a separate story, ppl stormed the *fake mosque pic.twitter.com/vmWlEff8hk
An imam who became the face of an anti-Muslim Hurricane Harvey hoax has spoken up about the ordeal that lifed him to international fame, but not before attempting to tarnish the reputations of both him and the Muslims living in Houston, Texas.
Soon after the deadly storm slammed into the coast of Texas, a number of mosques in the flood-ravaged region opened their gates to the people who evacuated their homes and had nowhere safe to go.
However, amid the positive stories about Muslims offering supplies and shelter to their neighbors, a fake story about a non-existent Houston mosque turning away Harvey evacuees began gaining traction among right-wing Islamophobes, who were just too prejudiced to fact check the credibility of the article.
The story titled, “Texas Mosque Refuses to Help Refugees,” was posted on The Resistance: The Last Line of Defense, which claims to be satire website, along with a photo of the supposed imam of the make-believe mosque.
The disclaimer below the article read, “While everything on this site is a satirical work of fiction, we are proud to present it to those who will have called it real anyway.” However, it seems many people — both the bigots and those being targeted — not only failed to notice it, they also went ahead and shared the story. In fact, at least two right-wing sites also reposted the article.
As it turned out, the imam in the widely shared story not only lives in Toronto, Canada, but also he was in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for Hajj when the story went viral. He has never been to Texas to boot.
Ibrahim Hindy took to Twitter to point out the dangers of "fake news" and clarify he is not the fictional imam who supposedly turned away hundreds of evacuees.
“The whole thing was kind of surreal,” Hindy told CBC News. “I'm in the middle of a desert, just minding my own business, and somehow I get dragged into this thing out of nowhere.”
At first, he thought he should ignore the whole thing. However, his stance changed once he realized how scores of people believed the story to be real.
“But as I thought about it more, I thought this is the kind of thing that can actually be dangerous,” he continued. “It's going out there, it's inflaming emotions, it's getting people riled up on the basis of things that are completely false and completely made up. And frankly, someone could see my image there and think that I'm this terrible person and come after me.”
The satire site that originally posted the story has now replaced Hindy’s image with that of Lebanese Imam Ahmad al-Assir, according to the BBC.
As a Muslim Houstonian, this offends me on a personal level. Our mosques literally opened overnight for Harvey-impacted guests. https://t.co/4HYogoH2Ox— Iman Yunus (@BigHeaded_Asian) September 2, 2017
@Hindy500 I find this hilarious and pathetic. I can guarantee he isn't oppressing anyone in Texas because I am in his Hajj group.— Footybedsheets (@_shireenahmed_) September 4, 2017
Thumbnail/Banner: Reuters, Darrin Zammit Lupi