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Here's How A Canadian Imam Got Caught Up In Fake News About Houston

"I've never been to Texas before."

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Toronto imam Ibrahim Hindy was pictured in articles saying a mosque in Texas denied shelter to victims of Harvey. Hindy has never been to Texas.

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In fact, many Muslim Houstonians have been working to help victims of the deadly storm.

As a Muslim Houstonian, this offends me on a personal level. Our mosques literally opened overnight for Harvey-impa… https://t.co/OA81j37qW9

The Last Line Of Defense made up all the names in the article, which got over 2,000 likes, shares, and comments on Facebook, according to social tracking tool BuzzSumo.

The site is run by Christopher Lyman, also known as Busta Troll, who told BuzzFeed News a writer for the site found the image.

"It was a random Google search for a Muslim man outside the US," Lyman said over Facebook Messenger.

However, other sites copied the story from The Last Line Of Defense. They still used Hindy's image and did not include a disclaimer of the post being satirical.

Hindy told CBC News that the whole thing has been a surreal experience.

"But as I thought about it more, I thought this is the kind of thing that can actually be dangerous," he said. "It's going out there, it's inflaming emotions, it's getting people riled up on the basis of things that are completely false and completely made up. And frankly, someone could see my image there and think that I'm this terrible person and come after me."

A previous BuzzFeed News analysis found that Macedonian fake news sites frequently steal posts from The Last Line Of Defense, though many of those pages were taken down as a result of Lyman reporting them.

Lyman told BuzzFeed News he didn't want to get into the morality of his work.

"I expose hate. My methods are extreme and they are what they are," he said. "And as it exploits their [the readers'] fear of Muslims, they will also share the fake story, get smacked down by their friends and maybe learn to use Google once in a while."

Jane Lytvynenko is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto, Canada. PGP fingerprint: A088 89E6 2500 AD3C 8081 BAFB 23BA 21F3 81E0 101C.

Contact Jane Lytvynenko at jane.lytvynenko@buzzfeed.com.

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