Saudi teen who fled her family arrives in Canada

Saudi teen who fled her family arrives in Canada

Qunun arrived at Toronto's Pearson International Airport on Saturday morning, wearing a hoodie emblazoned with the word Canada in red, and a blue cap with the logo of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which has granted her refugee status.

Canadian diplomats in the Thai capital were immediately seized with Alqunun's plight, and though she originally said she wanted to go to Australia, it became clear in the past week that Canada represented her quickest path to freedom.

In her last tweet before leaving for Toronto, Qunun said, "I did it", and posted pictures from inside an airplane.

"It does get warmer", Freeland said she told her. Australia, the country she was trying to reach, and... Her account was deactivated shortly afterward in response to death threats she had faced, her friends said.

The saga of Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun grabbed global attention this week after she barricaded herself in a Bangkok airport hotel room to resist being sent home to her family, which denies any abuse.


Mr Surachate said her father and brother were due to return home on a flight today.

Ms Qunun left from the same airport where her quest for asylum began less than a week ago in a swift-moving process that defied most norms. She had also clarified that she did not run away from home in order to escape her marriage. Alqunun's Twitter account - where she published videos and pleas for safety - has since gone dark.

Then on Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the surprise announcement that Canada would take her in. "My life is in danger".

Canada's move is sure to further strain its relations with the Arab kingdom.

Raif Badawi's wife Ensaf Haidar also praised Canada, calling Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland on Twitter "the real hero" behind efforts to prevent Qunun's repatriation to Saudi Arabia.


Saudi Arabia responded by freezing new trade and investment deals, suspending flights to Canada, reassigning students studying there and expelling Canada's ambassador to Saudi Arabia, while recalling its own.

"Canada believes very strongly in standing up for human rights throughout the world". "This is part of a long tradition of Canada engaging constructively and positively in the world and working with our partners, allies and with the United Nations".

At least one observer of middle-east politics predicted minimal fallout from Canada's decision to welcome Alqunun.

There was no immediate Saudi government reaction, nor any mention of her arrival in state media.

Momani said Saudi Arabia could theoretically pursue stiffer measures such as imposing full sanctions or shutting down the Canadian embassy entirely, but said the existing measures have already achieved virtually the same effect.


The 18-year-old's fight against deportation from Thailand as she tried to claim asylum captivated a global audience through her Twitter account, which now has almost 150,000 followers.

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