Syrians Pepper Sprayed At Vancouver Event In Wake Of Viral Facebook Post On Lavish Canadian Refugee Benefits

At about 10:30 p.m. last night, a group of between 15 and 30 newly arrived Syrian refugees gathered in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, at a “welcome event” hosted by the Muslim Association of Canada Centre, were pepper sprayed while its members congregated outside the event, waiting for a bus as it came to an end, as reported by Yahoo News.

“Some kids got unconscious because of how strong it was,” Ammar Ramadan, a member of the Muslim association was quoted as saying. “A bunch of women and children, they were all just affected by it.”

A man described as “wearing a white hooded sweatshirt,” and riding a bicycle, was alleged to have perpetrated that attack. Members of the Muslim centre and victims of the pepper spray attack were reported to have “mixed” views on whether the attack was specifically targeting Syrian refugees.

On December 30, a Facebook user named Mike Kaufman grossly misinterpreted a benefit allowance afforded to Syrian, and all, refugees when they first arrive in Canada. Kaufman quoted a Vancouver Sun article with regard to Syrian refugees, which states “the government will reimburse up to $15 per person for breakfast, $16 for lunch, and $30 for dinner,” according to CKNW.

By Kaufman’s calculations, this works out to $186 per day, or $5,580 per month for a family with four children, or about five times more than the amount Canadian pensioners receive. The only problem is that the benefits described in the Vancouver Sun article are only provided for a few days, when families, such as those who are currently arriving from Syria, first arrive.

Once those few days are up, Syrian refugees get standard Canadian social assistance benefits, which include a monthly payment of $610 for single people and $1,186 for a family of four, plus other benefits like prescription drug coverage and access to dental care for kids.

Kaufman’s original Facebook post has since been taken down, but not before it was widely shared. CKNW described what is perceived as a “problem” with the fact that Kaufman “misquoted the article, and the repercussion can be negative backlash against refugees that is unwarranted.”

Whether or not last night’s group of pepper-sprayed Syrian refugees was targeted as a result of furor stirred up by Kaufman’s post remains to be seen.

Canada has implemented, and begun to execute, a plan to bring 25,000 Syrians to the country, according to the Government of Canada. The nation has budgeted $61 to $77 million toward meeting the short term needs of newly arrived refugees, and $678 million over a six-year period toward their resettlement and integration.

Unknown assailant pepper sprays group of Syrian refugees at Vancouver welcoming event.

Though the democratically elected government of Canada has a formal stance of accepting refugees into its society, there remain a minority who appear to feel threatened by foreigners and perpetrate regrettable acts against them, such as removing the hijabs of pregnant women and knocking them to the ground, as reported by the Inquisitr, or, evidently, dousing woman and children with pepper spray.

Unfortunately, assaults against Muslim women by Canadians do not appear to be isolated incidents, as reported by the CBC and Toronto Sun.

While some Canadians have voiced support for Kaufman’s seemingly reactionary, misinformed views on refugees, it would seem that a great majority do not. Canadian Facebook user Sea Palmer took to the social media site with a detailed rebuttal of Kaufman’s post. Despite this, some users shared Palmer’s rebuttal, without reading what he wrote, and the post attracted comments like “True Bulls***… pensioners, disabled and others in the streets!! Time to take care of our own… how do they justify this??”

The Vancouver Police Department is said to be investigating the details surrounding the pepper spraying of the newly arrived Canadian residents.

[Photo by AP Photo/Sam McNeil]