Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, a Saudi teen who started a viral social media campaign to find asylum, has arrived in Canada after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the country would accept her.
Previously, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees gave her official refugee status.
Before traveling to Canada, Alqunun was in Thailand, where she flew and locked herself in a hotel room until she secured temporary protection from the country.
TORONTO (AP) — An 18-year-old Saudi runaway who said she was abused and feared death if deported back home arrived in Canada Saturday arm-in-arm with the country’s foreign minister.
Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun smiled broadly as she exited an arrival door at Toronto’s airport sporting a Canada zipper hoodie, capping a dramatic week that saw her flee her family while visiting Kuwait and before flying to Bangkok, where she barricaded herself in an airport hotel to avoid deportation. The case grabbed global attention after she mounted a social media campaign for asylum.
“This a very brave new Canadian,” said Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.
Read more: The Saudi teen who fled her family and led a viral Twitter campaign was just granted asylum in Canada
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday that Canada would accept Alqunun as a refugee in a case that has highlighted the cause of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, where several women fleeing abuse by their families have been caught trying to seek asylum abroad in recent years and returned home. Human rights activists say many similar cases go unreported.
“She had a very long and tiring journey so she would prefer not to take questions today,” said Freeland, adding that she would take questions later.
Alqunun earlier tweeted two pictures from her plane seat — one with what appears to be a glass of wine and her passport and another holding her passport while on the plane with the hashtag “I did it” and the emojis showing plane, hearts and wine glass.
Canada’s decision to grant her asylum could further upset the country’s relations with Saudi Arabia.
In August, Saudi Arabia expelled Canada’s ambassador to the kingdom and withdrew its own ambassador after Canada’s Foreign Ministry tweeted support for women’s right activists who had been arrested. The Saudis also sold Canadian investments and ordered their citizens studying in Canada to leave.
No country, including the U.S., spoke out publicly in support of Canada in that spat with the Saudis.
On Friday, Trudeau avoided answering a question about what the case would mean for relations with the kingdom, but he said Canada is pleased to give her asylum because Canada is a country that understands how important it is to stand up for human rights and to stand up for woman’s rights around.
Canadian officials were reluctant to comment further until she landed safely.
The office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees welcomed Canada’s decision.
“The quick actions over the past week of the government of Thailand in providing temporary refuge and facilitating refugee status determination by UNHCR, and of the government of Canada in offering emergency resettlement to Ms. Alqunun and arranging …read more
Source:: Business Insider