Saudi teen Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun who fled family is coming to Canada

Al-Qunun barricaded herself in a Bangkok airport hotel room and launched a Twitter campaign.
January 11, 2019, 4:47pm
Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun barricaded herself in a Bangkok airport hotel room.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has confirmed that a Saudi asylum seeker who says she’s afraid her family will kill her for renouncing Islam if she is forced to return home, is coming to Canada.

Trudeau announced in Saskatchewan that Saudi teen Rahaf Mohamed al-Qunun is coming to Canada, adding that Canada accepted a request made by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to grant her asylum.

Canada was one of several countries to come forward and say they’d welcome Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, who barricaded herself in a Bangkok airport hotel room and launched a Twitter campaign, requesting a meeting with the UN Refugee Agency, gaining international attention, after Thai officials stripped her of her passport and told her she’d be deported.

Al-Qunun has said she suffered physical and psychological abuse from her family, and was afraid for her life. After the plane she was scheduled to be on left Thailand without her earlier this week, al-Qunun said in a a video posted on her account, she said: “I am Rahaf, the plane has departed, I am in the hotel, I need a country to protect me as soon as possible. I am seeking asylum.”

“My family is strict and locked me in a room for six months just for cutting my hair,” she said, adding that she was certain she would be imprisoned if sent back. “I’m sure, 100%, they will kill me as soon as I get out of the Saudi jail,” she said.

On Wednesday, al-Qunun was declared a refugee by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, which initially referred her for asylum in Australia. The agency has not publicly commented on the case, and did not respond to a request for comment from VICE News.

Before she shut down her account on Friday, to avoid death threats, al-Qunun had said she wanted to seek refuge in Australia.

Global Affairs Canada has not responded to a request for comment from VICE News.

Cover image of handout provided by Thai Immigration Bureau