Saudi teen seeking asylum gets to Toronto
An 18-year-old Saudi runaway who said she feared death if she were 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 while standing arm-in-arm with the Saudi woman in Toronto’s airport. Freeland said Alqunun preferred not to take questions.
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 cap, capping a dramatic week that saw her flee her family while visiting Kuwait 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.