Saudi asy­lum seeker ac­cepted by Canada


Lethbridge Herald - - HEADLINE NEWS -

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau says Canada has granted asy­lum to a Saudi woman who fled al­leged abuse by her fam­ily and was holed up in Thai­land.

Ra­haf Mo­hammed Alqu­nun, 18, was stopped last Satur­day at a Bangkok air­port by im­mi­gra­tion po­lice who de­nied her en­try and seized her pass­port.

She bar­ri­caded her­self in an air­port ho­tel room and launched a so­cial me­dia cam­paign that drew global at­ten­tion to her case.

Trudeau says the United Na­tions High Com­mis­sion on Refugees made a re­quest of Canada that it take Alqu­nun as a refugee and Canada ac­cepted.

“That is some­thing that we are pleased to do be­cause Canada is a coun­try that un­der­stands how im­por­tant it is to stand up for hu­man rights, to stand up for women’s rights around the world,” Trudeau told a news con­fer­ence in Regina.

Alqu­nun’s case has high­lighted the cause of women’s rights in Saudi Ara­bia.

Sev­eral fe­male Saudis flee­ing abuse by their fam­i­lies have been caught try­ing to seek asy­lum abroad in re­cent years and re­turned home.

Canada tak­ing Alqu­nun could fur­ther upset Saudi-Canada re­la­tions.

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 rights ac­tivists who had been ar­rested. The Saudis also sold Cana­dian in­vest­ments and or­dered their cit­i­zens study­ing in Canada to leave.

Alqu­nun had pre­vi­ously said on Twit­ter that she wished to seek refuge in Aus­tralia.

Aus­tralian For­eign Min­is­ter Marise Payne met with se­nior Thai of­fi­cials in Bangkok on Thurs­day. She later said that Aus­tralia was as­sess­ing Alqu­nun’s re­quest for re­set­tle­ment.

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