Saudi asy­lum seeker head­ing to Canada

SEV­ERAL COUN­TRIES IN TALKS

Coventry Telegraph - - World -

A SAUDI teenager who holed up in Thai­land af­ter flee­ing al­leged abuse by her fam­ily will leave Bangkok for Canada, ac­cord­ing to Thai­land’s im­mi­gra­tion po­lice chief.

Ra­haf Mo­hammed Alqu­nun, 18, was due to leave on a flight late yes­ter­day evening, said Po­lice Chief Su­rachate Hak­parn.

He ear­lier said that sev­eral coun­tries, in­clud­ing Canada and Aus­tralia, were in talks with the UN refugee agency on ac­cept­ing Ms Mo­hammed Alqu­nun.

She was on her way to Aus­tralia last Satur­day, but was stopped at a Bangkok air­port by im­mi­gra­tion po­lice who seized her pass­port.

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

Thai of­fi­cials agreed to ad­mit her tem­po­rar­ily un­der the pro­tec­tion of UN of­fi­cials who granted her refugee sta­tus on Wed­nes­day.

The 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.

If Canada takes Ms Mo­hammed Alqu­nun, it could fur­ther upset Saudi-Canada re­la­tions. In Au­gust, Saudi Ara­bia ex­pelled Canada’s am­bas­sador to the king­dom and with­drew its own am­bas­sador in a row over the ar­rests of women’s right ac­tivists.

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