Saturday, January 12, 2019

18-Year-Old Saudi Teen, Rahaf Al-Qunun Granted Asylum By Canada

An 18-year-old Saudi teen who fled her family after renouncing Islam has arrived Canada where she was granted asylum after getting stranded at a Bangkok airport.

Rahaf al-Qunun who has nine siblings and whose father is the town governor of al-Sulaimi in Saudi Arabia, says her family prevented her from getting an education, locked her up for months and subjected her to physical and psychological abuse.

They also threatened to kill her because she does not follow Islam and wanted her to enter into an arranged marriage.

Rahaf was on a trip to Kuwait with her family when she fled on a flight to the Thai capital saying she intended to take a connecting flight to Australia and also had an Australian visa.

However her passport was seized by a Saudi diplomat when he met her coming off the flight in Bangkok leaving her stranded.

Thai officials initially described her case as a "family problem" and said she would be repatriated back to Kuwait the next day.

She was detained by Thai authorities at a hotel within the airport, where she barricaded herself in and sent a series of tweets requesting for help and this drew worldwide support with more than half a million tweets using the "#SaveRahaf" hashtag.

Her case was picked up by Human Rights Watch and journalists and Thailand was forced to allow her to stay in the country while the UN assessed her claim for asylum.

Upon arriving Canada, al-Qunun was welcomed by Canada’s Foreign Minister, Chrystia Freeland at Toronto’s airport on Saturday.

While addressing reporters, the minister said, "This is a brave new Canadian".

"It's obvious that the oppression of women is not a problem that can be resolved in a day, but rather than cursing the darkness we believe in lighting a single candle," she said. "Where we can save a single woman, a single person that's a good thing to do."

Her case has drawn global attention to Saudi Arabia's strict social rules, including a requirement that women have the permission of a male "guardian" to travel, which rights groups say can trap women and girls as prisoners of abusive families.

Al-Qunun took to Twitter to thank those who had helped her.

She wrote, "I would like to thank you people for supporting me and saving my life. Truly I have never dreamed of this love and support. You are the spark that would motivate me to be a better person."

No comments:

Post a Comment