Culture

Major Fairfax Papers Accidentally Put A Random Guy On Today’s Front Page And Called Him A Terrorist

Oh dear Lord.

Today’s editions of major Fairfax newspapers, including the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and the Canberra Times, led their front pages with stories about Abdul Numan Haider, the 18-year-old man who was shot dead by Victorian police on Monday after attacking two officers with a knife.

Each front page story was accompanied by two photos, one of a man in a balaclava posing with a flag, the other of a young man in formal wear with his face uncovered. The front pages stated that the man in the balaclava and the young man in the formal wear were the same person, Abdul Numan Haider, who was killed by police.

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Problem is, that guy in the suit? That’s not the guy who was killed by police earlier this week. He’s not a terror suspect in any way, shape or form, and while it’s not entirely clear who he is at present — a quick hunt for “Numan Haider” on Facebook, where Fairfax states it sourced the pictures, yields nothing — he is, unequivocally, just a random guy. A random guy who’s been branded a terrorist on the front page of some of Australia’s largest newspapers, for literally no reason.

Fairfax has since issued an apology on its website and Twitter, which states:

“One of the photographs run on this website and Fairfax papers in relation to the death of Numan Haider was published in error. The young man in a suit was not  Mr Haider, and we unreservedly apologise to him for the error.

“The young man has no connection whatsoever with any extremist or terrorist group and we deeply regret any such inference arising from  the publication of the photograph. The picture has been withdrawn from circulation.”

However, Fairfax has not yet offered an explanation as to how the photograph was found, whose decision it was to put it on the front cover, and who did the checking to ensure the man in the photograph was, in fact, Abdul Numan Haider.

Needless to say, some found that little apology a smidge adequate:

In an interview with News.com.au, the family of the young man angrily defended him, saying he “just goes to school at Minaret College and works for Hungry Jacks three days a week” and that his grandfather, Hakim Taniwal, returned to Afghanistan from Australia in 2002 to act as the Governor of a province and help combat the rising influence of the Taliban before he was killed alongside his nephew near Kabul in 2006.