Friday, April 19, 2013

Blog 10: Mass. bombing suspect portrayal

A 17 year old teenager who participated in the Boston Marathon, is terrified to go outside of his home after being portrayed on the internet and on the front page of New York Post as connected to the deadly  Boston Marathon bombings. Photos of Salah Eddin Barhoum, 17, and friend Yassine Zaime were posted on websites whose users have been scouring marathon finish line photos for suspects. The two were also on the Post's front Thursday with the headline: "Bag men: Feds seek these two pictured at Boston Marathon." 

It was later reported on the New York Post that the FBI has identified two other men as suspects involved with the bombings that killed 3 people and injured more than 130. But Barhoum, a high school track runner, said he is convinced some people will blame him for the bombings, no matter what because of his skin color. He said he was so fearful on Thursday that he ran back to the high school after a track meet when he saw a man in a car staring at him, talking into a phone. He said he won't feel safe until the bombers are caught.

Barhoum said there are only two reasons he's been labeled a suspect: his bag and his brown skin.

Barhoum said he was at the marathon with Zaime, a friend from the running club,  and they were hoping to run a portion of it behind the official field. Barhoum's bag was for his running gear. On the way to the race, the pair got the address wrong for the race and ended up at the finish line instead of where they wanted to start the race. Barhoum said they decided to stick around to see the top runners, finish up and then left.

Barhoum said that late Wednesday, friends started flagging the online photos and commenters started their work on them. He said he was so upset, he visited police early Thursday to clear his name. He said they advised him to not go on his Facebook account or deactivate it.

When the Post published the photo later Thursday, a bad situation got worse, Barhoum said.

"It hurts because the person who did it must be happy right now, looking at the people who are getting blamed," he said. "And I'm one of them."

Kayla Gammie
2:36 pm

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