A Syrian flag painted on a brick wall.

Syrian Man in Germany With Four Wives and 22 Children Gets $360,000 Per Year in Welfare?

Reports of a Syrian man living in Germany with his four wives and 22 kids collects $360,000 per year in welfare began circulating in mid-2016 at the height of the Syrian refugee crisis. But the man is only identified as “Ghazia A.,” making follow-up or independent confirmation impossible. The claim that the Syrian man receives $360,000 in welfare, meanwhile, is an estimation that is also not based on verified reports.

 The German newspaper Rhein-Zeitung was the first to publish the story, reporting without that “most of the refugees in the region are inconspicuous and try to integrate.” But “Ghazia A.” was cited here as an exception, with four wives and 23 children, 22 of whom lived in Germany:

The family man arrived last year with four wives and 23 children from Turkey. The traditional extended family previously lived in several cities throughout Syria. The wealthy businessman could afford a house for every woman and even servants there. According to Islamic law, the Koran allows a man to marry up to four wives and other lovers. This is controversial for progressive Muslims. By contrast, conservative families live according to this legal concept, which often denies women access to education.

The initial story included no information on public benefits or welfare purportedly received by the Syrian man or his family, but other publications soon began filling in the blanks. Reports that the man collected as much as $400,000 per year quickly began to circulate.

Those figures are not verified, but publications like the UK’s Express reported the information as fact nevertheless. A story appeared there under the misleading headline, “Syrian refugee with FOUR WIVES and 23 CHILDREN ‘claims £320,000 a year in benefits.'” However, buried in the post is the fact that those figures are based on rough estimations:

The family could be receiving more than £320,000 a year in benefits according to a financial manager on the Employers’ Association website.
There is no official confirmation on this figure.

German officials say they do not recognize polygamy, so it is unclear how he would have so many wives. However, there is no way to confirm those reports, based as they are on complete speculation and rooted firmly in a complete lack of evidence. As it stands, it is impossible to confirm whether or not “Ghazia A.” even exists.