Run­away Saudi woman wel­comed to Toronto as ‘brave new Cana­dian’

The Beaufort Gazette (Sunday) - - News - BY ROB GIL­LIES

Tired but smil­ing, an 18-year-old Saudi run­away who said she feared death if de­ported back home ar­rived Sat­ur­day in Canada, which had of­fered her asy­lum in a case that at­tracted global at­ten­tion af­ter she mounted a so­cial me­dia cam­paign.

“This is Ra­haf Alqu­nun, a very brave new Cana­dian,” For­eign Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land said arm-in-arm with the Saudi woman in Toronto’s air­port.

Ra­haf Mo­hammed Alqu­nun smiled broadly as she ex­ited an air­port ar­rival door sport­ing a Canada zip­per hoodie and a U.N. High Com­mis­sioner for Refugees hat, cap­ping a dra­matic week that saw her flee her fam­ily while vis­it­ing Kuwait and be­fore fly­ing to Bangkok. From there, she bar­ri­caded her­self in an air­port ho­tel to avoid de­por­ta­tion and tweeted about her sit­u­a­tion.

On Fri­day, Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau an­nounced that Canada would ac­cept Alqu­nun as a refugee. Her sit­u­a­tion has high­lighted the cause of women’s rights in Saudi Ara­bia, where sev­eral women flee­ing abuse by their fam­i­lies have been caught try­ing to seek asy­lum abroad in re­cent years and re­turned home.

Free­land said Alqu­nun pre­ferred not to take ques­tions Sat­ur­day.

“It was a plea­sure for me this morn­ing to wel­come her to her new home,” Free­land said. “She is ob­vi­ously very tired af­ter a long jour­ney and she pre­ferred to go and get set­tled. But it was Ra­haf’s choice to come out and say hello to Cana­di­ans. She wanted Cana­di­ans to see that she’s here, that she’s well and that she’s very happy to be in her new home.”

Free­land said Alqu­nun com­mented about the cold weather and she re­sponded that it gets warmer in Canada.

Ra­haf Mo­hammed Alqu­nun

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