Last night, Syrian refugees attending a Welcoming event in Vancouver were attacked with pepper spray. Global News reported that around 15 people – including children as young as two years old – were sprayed by a man riding past on a bike. Some people who were not refugees were also hit by the spray. The attack is being classified as a hate crime at this point. “It was tragic,” said Tarek Ramadan of the Muslim Association of Canada, adding, “It was not good for these people who came from five years of war.”
This is not okay.
Victims of a hate crime?! It is cruel irony that the refugees were at a welcoming event, and were treated in the complete opposite of a welcoming manner; but worse irony that they came to Canada seeking refugee from years of war and violence and found themselves victims of a violent attack. The Syrians who came to Canada were promised a new life – a peaceful one. They deserve that, and more; but unfortunately, some people disagree.
This is not right.
Unless we are refugees or immigrants ourselves, it is impossible to imagine what the Syrians who came to Canada have been through – or what they are still going through. If the people who don’t support the refugees were the ones fleeing from the cramped quarters of a refugee camp, or escaping living under the threat of terrorist attacks and being surrounded by a civil war, they would think differently. There is an appalling amount of ignorance in some people’s minds; but a lack of understanding does not justify a hate crime.
This is not acceptable.
I have to remind myself that the actions of one do not reflect the thoughts of many. For that one person who misguidedly attacked the refugees, there are thousands of Canadians who support the refugees, who condemn the attack (Prime Minister Trudeau among them), and who are shaken to their cores that this attack happened.
This is not just.
The thoughts of all of us who truly welcome the refugees will hopefully help to heal any emotional wounds from the attack, and hopefully help set the record straight for some of the ignorant people. Unfortunately, even a million welcoming and supportive thoughts could not change the fact that this attack happened, that what was supposed to be a safe place of refuge was – and to some extent, is – marred by hate. I am so sad, so ashamed, and so sorry that Syrian refugees were attacked in the place they were told would welcome them with open arms.
This is not Canada.