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GTA Imam concerned after photo used in apparent "fake news" story

Last Updated Sep 3, 2017 at 9:05 am EDT

As many flock to provide aid for the parts of Texas that have been ravaged by Hurricane Harvey, a disturbing news article is making the rounds and raising some alarming concerns.

The target of this post is a GTA area Imam who has now taken online to defend himself against what he calls a “fake news story”.

“I think the greatest fear is that from these fake stories, people can actually get hurt,” said Imam Ibrahim Hindy. “Someone can actually read these stories and think it’s real.”

The Canadian-born Imam says the article, which has been posted on numerous sites, is based on false facts. The story claims a Texas Mosque refused to help Christian hurricane victims, and that group then kicked down the doors of the supposed building, that may not exist, and occupied it.

A photo accompanies the article, it’s that of Imam Hindy, who says he’s never even stepped foot in Texas. He’s currently in Saudi Arabia, completing the Muslim pilgrimage of Hajj.

He says he was alerted to the post early Saturday morning, when several people tagged him in the online articles.

“I’m not entirely sure which website it even originated from, because it seems like it’s been on a number of websites,” the Imam tells CityNews over the phone. “The name of the Mosque doesn’t make sense in any language as far as I know, all the details around this story are completely fabricated. But it’s pushed out there, these things get shared, people comment on them and it just goes viral like that.”

It’s not known who wrote the piece posted online on Friday and there were no interviews supporting the author’s claims. The comments section though proved to be just as disturbing as the article itself and was accompanied by messages of hate towards Muslims. At least one of the sites has had the article shared over 1,000 times, enough so that it’s raising some concerns.

“We’ve seen these acts of tremendous hatred and betrayal happening all across the world; hate crimes, murders and attacks,” explains the Imam. “We saw it in Charlottesville recently with the young woman being killed there.”

“It shows you that people can be so enraged and their emotions can be inflamed through these fake stories,” he continues. “Blood can actually be spilled and people can actually die, I think that’s the greatest fear.”

Imam Hindy was featured in a CityNews story back in April, when he received death threats for supporting prayers inside Peel region schools.

At a time when tensions are already high in the U.S., Imam Hindy is refusing to let this divide people further. He’s taken to social media to distance himself from the articles, posting a response on Facebook and his tweet has already been shared more than 100,000 times.

He’s been receiving support from all over the world, including from Texans in Houston who’ve seen firsthand the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.

“A lot of non-Muslims have been tweeting at me, telling me that this is ridiculous because they’ve been seeing Muslims on the streets,” he said. “Cleaning up debris, helping people, giving them shelters in mosques, giving first aid kits to people who are stranded in different places.”

CityNews has reached out to one of the sites that posted the article, to ask why the imam’s photo was included. They had yet to respond.

Imam Hindy says he will reach out to each one of the sites to ask for his photo to be removed.