The 18-year-old wore a gray hoodie that read “Canada” and a cap with the logo of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as she walked out smiling in the arrival hall of the airport. Toronto airport Saturday morning local time.
She was greeted by Freeland, who walked her into the arrivals hall. Freeland said al-Qunun prefers not to answer questions.
– He is a very brave new Canadian who has been through a lot and has now been cleared to go to his new home, Freeland said alongside al-Qunun.
– It was a pleasure for me this morning to be able to welcome him to his new home. She is of course very tired after a long journey and prefers to continue and settle here. But it was Rahaf’s choice to come here and say hello to the Canadians. She wanted Canadians to see that she is here, that she is well and that she is very happy to have arrived in her new home, said the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Freeland also said al-Qunun commented on the cold weather, to which Freeland replied that it is getting warmer in Canada.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the day before that Canada had granted asylum to Saudi Arabia.
– Canada has been unequivocal that we work for human rights and women’s rights around the world. When the United Nations asked us to grant al-Qunun asylum, we accepted it, Trudeau said.
Al-Qunun became world famous when she was arrested at a Bangkok airport last Saturday. There she prayed for her life and claims the family abused her both physically and psychologically. She also claims to have turned away from Islam, which is a very serious crime in Saudi Arabia.
Thai authorities threatened to send her home, but writing about her situation on Twitter, al-Qunun managed to force a U-turn.
Read also : Canada confirms asylum for Saudi Rahaf
The UN thanks you
Instead, she was handed over to UNHCR, which granted her refugee status on Wednesday.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi, thanks the Thai and Canadian authorities for the successful outcome of the case.
– Al-Qunun has captured the world’s attention in recent days and provided insight into the dangerous situation of millions of refugees around the world, Grandi said in a statement on Friday.
– The safety of refugees cannot always be guaranteed, but in this case refugee law and humanity prevailed, he said.
Read also : The UN granted refugee status to Rahaf (18)
ran away from family
The 18-year-old said she fled her ultra-conservative homeland of Saudi Arabia and was reported by her guardian for traveling without her permission.
She claimed the family would kill her if she was sent home, which they themselves denied.
The 18-year-old’s escape has sparked a debate on social media among young Saudi women – and men – over the strict guardianship policy, writes the AFP news agency.
All women in Saudi Arabia must have a male guardian, who may be a husband, father or relative. These men must formally give their permission before a woman can study, marry, drive a car or obtain a passport.
Qunun himself took to Twitter against the tutelage policy in Saudi Arabia.
– Abandon guardianship, otherwise we will all emigrate, she writes.
Sources close to the government tell AFP that they are trying to change the system little by little to avoid a backlash that would make the country even more conservative.
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