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Bearded UK tourists caught up in Vancouver ‘terror scare’

23Three men from Manchester caught up in a potential terror investigation inCanada have claimed Vancouver police racially profiled them because they had beards.
CCTV pictures of the trio in a Vancouver shopping mall were leaked to Canadian media last week after they were seen taking “suspicious” photographs.
Vancouver police on Thursday appealed for information about the “suspicious incident”, which they said involved three “Middle Eastern-looking men” who were spotted inside the Pacific Centre mall allegedly photographing the entrances and exits.

Yet the suspects turned out to be Mancunian tourists, two with poor sight – visiting Vancouver for eye surgery. Police later accepted they were taking so many photographs so they could zoom in close when they get home.
“These guys can’t even see! And you expect them to be pulling off something big,” said Mohammed Sharaz, a Briton of Pakistani origin. He said he was visiting Vancouver with his 14-year-old son, Salahuddin Sharaz, and friend, Mohammed Kareem, both of whom suffer from retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic condition that eventually causes blindness.
Sharaz told CBC: “I bought my son a little phone he brought with him just to take pictures of anything he can remember, take it back home and show his family and his friends.”
Of Kareem he said: “My friend, when he looks at anything head-on, he doesn’t see like me and you do. So he’ll take a picture or a movie and then later on when he gets back he zooms into it and he watches stuff. He takes pictures of anything and everything.”
The two are being treated at the Wellspring Clinic for Holistic Medicine by Dr Weidong Yu, CBC reported. Sharaz said the treatment is not available in the UK.
“Because of this terrorist issue, [people say] ‘they got a beard’, that’s why they think we’re terrorists,” Kareem told CBC. “But not everyone is the same, which we need to say. We are not Middle-Eastern, we are Britons.”
Vancouver police had put out an appeal for “Middle Eastern-looking men”, saying that while they had no evidence the men had committed a crime in the mall, they would like to speak to them about what they were doing.
After the men came forward, police said no action would be taken. “All three men were cooperative with investigators and they had a very logical explanation regarding their behaviour. The investigation has conclusively determined that their actions were completely innocent,” the force said
Police said the CCTV photographs had been leaked to “a Vancouver news outlet via an unknown source, and were not intended or authorised to be shared with the general public. The information was part of an internal police bulletin circulated amongst police officers throughout the province of BC [British Columbia].”
The men told CBC they were shocked to become the subjects of media and online scrutiny after the memo was leaked.
“Come here, we’re famous,” Sharaz said to his son and Kareem. “Look, we’re on TV! I said: ‘You two were taking pictures and they think you’re up to no good!’”
Despite being cleared of any wrongdoing, the men were worried that the CCTV pictures would live forever on the internet. But Sharaz told CBC he does not blame the police for how they handled the situation. “I think the police, the job they did was perfectly fine,’ he said. “There’s a lot of evil that goes on in the world and if they just ignored it and something serious was to happen … A human life is not worth nothing, any human life is worth something.”