Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun: Saudi teen vows to fight for women's rights despite facing ‘multiple’ threats

'I am one of the lucky ones,' says Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun

Zamira Rahim
Wednesday 16 January 2019 02:26 GMT
Saudi teen Rahaf al-Qunun posts video as she lands in Canada after being granted asylum

A Saudi teenager who fled the Middle Eastern kingdom due to fears that she would be harmed or killed by family members, has received multiple threats online after being granted asylum in Canada.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun is set to begin her new life in Toronto accompanied by a security guard, who has been hired to ensure she is "never alone"

The 18-year-old attracted global attention after she barricaded herself in a hotel room in Thailand before taking to social media to plead for assistance, nonetheless pledged to fight for women's freedoms in her first public appearance since she touched down in the city.

"Today and for years to come, I will work in support of freedom for women around the world," the teenager said in a statement, which she read out in Arabic at a press conference.

"I am one of the lucky ones," she added. "I know there are unlucky women that disappeared after escaping and could not do anything to change their reality."

The teenager hit the headlines after she was stopped in Thailand's capital Bangkok on 4 January. Immigration police seized her passport and denied her entry to the country.

She then took to Twitter to explain that she escaped Saudi Arabia during a trip to Kuwait and that her life would be in danger if she was forced to return to her family.

Her family denies any abuse.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees eventually granted the 18-year-old refugee status and she accepted an offer of asylum from Canada.

Costi, a refugee agency, has been hired by the Canadian government to help Ms al-Qunun settle into Toronto.

Staff at the agency remain concerned over multiple threats aimed at the teenager online.

"It's hard to say how serious these threats are," Mario Calla, the agency's executive director, said. "We're taking them seriously."

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Ms al-Qunun thanked the Canadian and Thai governments and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for making her move to Canada possible.

"I understand that everyone here and around the world wishes me well and would like to continue to hear about how I am doing, but ... I would like to start living a normal private life, just like any other young woman living in Canada," she said.

Additional reporting by agencies

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