The photo of a Muslim American journalist was mistakenly attached to an online news story about the widow of Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen. The only similarity between the women is that they’re both Muslim and their first names are Noor.
Raw Story posted a photo of journalist Noor Tagouri in a story about Noor Salman, the widow of Mateen, who killed 49 people when he opened fire in the Pulse nightclub in Florida last June. Salman was arrested Monday in California by the FBI and charged with obstruction and giving support to a terrorist organization in connection with the shootings, NBC reported. Mateen was shot dead by police at the scene.
Tagouri was stunned to see her face on the article in Raw Story and immediately contacted the news site.
“Wow,” said a commenter on Tagouri’s Facebook page. “They think it’s ok just to use any random women who is wearing a hijab.” Ironically, photos of Salman don’t show her wearing a hijab, which Tagouri wears.
Though the main text of the story itself did not provide Tagouri’s name, the caption on her photo did, and it was credited to Facebook so trolls could easily track her down. There didn’t appear to be any hate comments, however, on her social media sites.
After Tagouri’s complaint, the bylined article on the arrest was swapped out with a Reuters piece featuring only a photo of Omar Mateen. “It’s an inexcusable mistake,” Raw Story publisher Roxanne Cooper told The Huffington Post.
But late Monday night Tagouri tweeted that she was upset that the story with the wrong photo was still accessible on a Google cache version of the story. And there was no explanation about the story swap or about the photo mistake Monday.
The error occurred in the current overheated atmosphere of fake news and vicious internet trolls. Last week, Washington Post home page editor Doris Truong recounted her own rattling experience with a case of mistaken identity, which involved viral tweets and blog posts plus an avalanche of vicious attacks on the internet. It began when someone spotted — and videotaped — an Asian woman apparently photographing what bloggers assumed were the notes of Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, during his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday. The woman was mistakenly identified as Truong, who is also Asian. But Truong wasn’t working that day, nor was she at the hearing.
Truong said in an article for the Post that she was “shocked by how quickly the narrative went from someone trying to identify a woman in a video to another person attaching a name to hordes seizing upon that information as the truth.”
Tagouri, 23, is an on-air journalist for Newsy. She was the first Muslim to appear in a hijab in the pages of Playboy in a feature story last year in the magazine’s “renegades” issue.” She aims to become the first hijab-wearing news anchor on a major network.
As for the woman actually arrested, Noor Salman, her attorney insists she is innocent, but authorities say she was with her husband when he purchased ammunition for his attack and exchanged texts with him while he was shooting people, NBC reported.