Saudi Asylum Seeker Granted Refuge in Canada

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qanun, who live-Tweeted her battle to escape her abusive family by seeking asylum, has found refuge in Canada.

Al-Qanun fled her abusive family in Saudi Arabia, seeking asylum in Australia on the grounds that she believed her father and brother would kill her for renouncing her Islamic faith — a crime which carries the death penalty.

She was intercepted and detained by Thai officials and nearly deported back to her family, but was granted refugee status by the United Nations Human Rights Council and given asylum in Canada.

Al-Qanun arrived in Toronto, Canada on Saturday after being forced to stop documenting her experiences on Twitter, having received multiple death threats.

Her final tweet was posted January 11 and shows al-Qanun’s passport and a glass of wine behind an airplane seat.

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Canadians expressed their enthusiasm for the government’s decision to extend asylum to al-Qanun on Twitter as well, with the hashtag #WelcomeToCanada.

Al-Qanun’s use of social media to gain international attention and apply pressure to the international community to acknowledge her plight has been hailed as “revolutionary” in the wake of the assassination of U.S. resident and Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudi regime.

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Her story has focused the international community on the issue of Saudi male guardianship, a law that restricts Saudi women almost entirely to the decisions made by their male relatives.

While al-Qanun is sadly not alone in her experiences, nor in her fight for freedom, she is an exception in the sense that she actually obtained that freedom.

Many Saudi women who attempt to escape their abusive situations are forcibly deported back to Saudi Arabia and are frequently never heard from again.

A GoFundMe page has been created by al-Qanun’s “Canadian family” to help raise money for the 18-year-old’s life in Canada.

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