WorldMiddle East


Saudi Woman Fleeing Alleged Abuse Granted Asylum In Canada

​Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed the country has granted her asylum.
Posted at 5:08 PM, Jan 11, 2019

The 18-year-old Saudi woman fleeing alleged abuse from her family has been granted asylum in Canada.

Thailand's immigration chief told Reuters that Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun had left Thailand Friday night en route to Canada. 

Alqunun claims her family has tried to forcefully marry her off and has been abusive to her, even more so after she renounced Islam. So when she was was on vacation with her family in Kuwait, she ran away. Alqunun boarded a plane to Thailand, planning to then go to Australia and claim asylum.

But she was stopped by Thai officials when she reached Bangkok, and her passport was confiscated. Facing deportation to Saudi Arabia, Alqunun barricaded herself in a Bangkok airport hotel room and pleaded for help on social media. She claimed if she was sent back to Saudi Arabia, she could face abuse by her family or be sent to jail.

The United Nations gave Alqunun refugee status on Wednesday. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed Friday that Canada "accepted the U.N.'s request [to] grant her asylum." Thailand's immigration chief said Alqunun looked happy and healthy, and thanked everyone for helping her.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN