A Kingston, Ont., family is beside themselves after they say they were targeted by a racist rant while shopping at the local Walmart location last Sunday.
“I’m shocked, because this is not normal in Canada,” Ahed Arzek told Global News.
The Arzek family came to Kingston from Lebanon, where they lived as refugees originally from Syria.
The father and his 17-year-old-daughter headed to Walmart on Sunday to grab some things for their house.
When the duo separated to get through their list faster, that’s when the incident happened.
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“I was in Walmart, and there is a woman that like was surrounding and following me,” the daughter told Global News. The family asked that her identity be hidden to prevent further harassment.
“And then start to talk to me like we have money more than you all guys, like Muslims. And we can’t imagine how stupid you are because you are wearing like a stupid thing.”
Ahed Azrek says that Kingston police were called to look at the surveillance footage from the Walmart location.
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Walmart staff closed the doors to the store in an effort to find the woman who allegedly harassed the teenager, but she has not yet been located.
“Walmart is committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment for our associates and our customers,” said Walmart manager of corporate affairs Jonathan Rumley.
“Our associates were extremely disappointed and very troubled to hear about this customer’s report.”
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“A manager helped the customer contact Kingston police from the store,” Rumley added. “He then stayed with her and she decided to continue shopping with her family.”
The incident closely follows another similar occurrence, in which a Muslim family was harassed at a Canadian Tire.
Kingston police have confirmed that there is an open investigation into this latest potentially hate-motivated crime towards Arzek, but that the suspect has yet to be identified.
The Arzek family says the day of the incident was their two-year anniversary in Canada. It should have been a day that brought happy memories, but now is associated with a bad one.
“I’m not talking just for me, I’m talking because I need all of you to know,” the daughter said. “I don’t want this to happen with anybody.”
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