Rahaf Mohammed fleeing gender oppression in Saudi Arabia

A lot of media attention is being given to teenager Rahaf Mohammend al-Qunun being given asylum in Canada after fleeing her family and gender oppression in Saudi Arabia.

Mercury – Saudi teenager Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun granted asylum in Canada

Saudi teenager Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun has been granted asylum in Canada after she fled her family fearing her father would kill her for renouncing Islam.

NDTV – Being In Canada “Worth The Risk”: Teen Who Fled Saudi, Fearing For Life

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun plans to pursue an education, get a job and “live a normal life” in Canada – things she said she could not do in her home of Saudi Arabia, which she fled fearing for her life, she told Canadian media on Monday.

Being in Canada is “a very good feeling,” she told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation two days after arriving in Toronto from Bangkok.

“It’s something that is worth the risk I took.”

Qunun grabbed international attention last week after she barricaded herself in a Bangkok airport hotel room to resist being sent home to her family, which denies abusing her. Qunun refused to meet her father and brother, who arrived in Bangkok to try to take her back to Saudi Arabia.

The United Nations High Commission on Refugees granted her refugee status, and Canada agreed to take her in.

Qunun’s case has drawn global attention to Saudi Arabia’s strict social rules, including a requirement that women have the permission of a male “guardian” in order to travel, something rights groups say can trap women and girls as prisoners of abusive families.

In her CBC interview, Qunun said: “I felt that I could not achieve my dreams that I wanted as long as I was still living in Saudi Arabia.”

Having come to Canada, “I felt that I was reborn, especially when I felt the love and the welcome,” she said.

In her new home, “I will try things I haven’t tried. I will learn things I didn’t learn. I will explore life. … I will have a job and live a normal life.”

This is quite an abnormal event in her life, but moving to Canada should at least allow her to make her own choices.

Statement by Rahaf Mohammed:

Guardian – Rahaf al-Qunun: ‘I hope my story encourages other women to be brave and free’

Speaking in her first interview after being given asylum in Canada, and landing in Toronto on Saturday, Qunun, told the ABC Australia her case might be the “agent for change” in Saudi Arabia, a country where women are denied basic freedoms and are not allowed to work, marry and travel without the permission of a male guardian.

“I think that the number of women fleeing from the Saudi administration and abuse will increase, especially since there is no system to stop them,” said Qunun. “I hope my story encourages other women to be brave and free.”

The 18-year-old added: “I hope my story prompts a change to the laws, especially as it’s been exposed to the world.”

“I wanted to be free from oppression and depression,” she told the ABC. “I wanted to be independent. I wouldn’t have been able to marry the person I wanted. I couldn’t get a job without permission.”

Qunun had originally applied for asylum in Australia but confirmed it was the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees that chose Canada because it processed her application more quickly. “This wasn’t my choice, it was the UN’s,” she said. “All I wanted was for a country to protect me. So, my choice was just for any country to protect me.”

In Saudi Arabia, the government-backed National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) also released a statement on Monday accusing several foreign countries of inciting “Saudi female delinquents to rebel against the values of their families and push them out of the country and seek to receive them under the pretext of granting them asylum.”

‘The values of their families’ and laws of the country in Saudi Arabia are quite oppressive towards females.

On their own the actions of Rahaf Mohammend (different versions of her name are given in different reports) may not change much in Saudi Arabia, but it may contribute to change there eventually. On a personal level it is a huge and brave decision.

But “I would like to start living a private normal life” and “Today and for years to come, I will work in support of freedom for women around the world” may be difficult to achieve side by side.

 

 

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23 Comments

  1. NOEL

     /  16th January 2019

    Wonder what special dispensation was approved? She was going through the Australian and UNHCR processes like any other refugee then hang accepted for Canada?

    Reply
  2. Blazer

     /  16th January 2019

    quite clearly the U.S should invade Saudi Arabia and bring freedom and democracy to the….joint.

    Reply
    • Patzcuaro

       /  16th January 2019

      Perhaps the US should sort its own democracy out first.

      Reply
    • Corky

       /  16th January 2019

      Saudi woman wouldn’t object. Although to be fair, they can now drive cars. Of course, should they cause an accident, they’ll be stoned to death. Just the thing our recidivist drink drivers need.

      Reply
      • phantom snowflake

         /  16th January 2019

        I’m calling bullshit on your claim of being “Libertarian”; you promote authoritarian and social conservative positions on most issues.

        Reply
      • phantom snowflake

         /  16th January 2019

        Corky: “Parti, you have the gift of linking anything in this world, no matter how disparate, to your political agenda.”
        Pot, kettle etc.

        Reply
        • Corky

           /  16th January 2019

          Er, no. It started with Blazer. The only thing I’m guilty of is getting off track with regards to the subject of this thread.

          Reply
      • Blazer

         /  16th January 2019

        ‘Less well known is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. — In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.”

        ― Karl Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  16th January 2019

          Saudi women are, of course, not stoned for causing accidents.

          Adultery is punishable by stoning, for both parties.

          Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  16th January 2019

          Popper is right. In the end, you can’t tolerate intolerance. That’s where religion gets stopped.

          Reply
  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  16th January 2019

    The UN makes itself a laughing stock by appointing Saudi Arabia onto its human rights committees.

    Reply
    • Patzcuaro

       /  16th January 2019

      Yes they do make some odd, dare I say PC appointments, such as Mugabe to a health committee.

      Reply
  4. David

     /  16th January 2019

    Amazing how much support for her compared with the Pakistani woman who half the country wanted to string up for Mohamed comments allegedly made.

    Reply
    • Corky

       /  16th January 2019

      Christians, Dave. The scourge of Islam and the Western world. Trouble makers wherever they go.

      Reply
    • Missy

       /  16th January 2019

      Wanted to? On Sunday #hangblasphemerasia was trending on Twitter in Pakistan. They still want to kill her.

      Reply
  5. Corky

     /  16th January 2019

    This girl is very intelligent. Stating her case as a human rights issue would have left her vulnerable to being returned to Saudi Arabia. Renouncing Islam mean’t her case would be given top priority. Even wet liberals couldn’t go past the obvious… renouncing Islam can be a death sentence.

    I can’t help thinking the personality of this girl would’ve been better suited to Australia, and not Canada.

    Reply
  6. Missy

     /  16th January 2019

    Last week the BBC Asian Network had a ‘big debate’ on this girl, they asked the question if viewers respected her decision to flee Saudi Arabia fearing her family would kill her.

    They came under a lot of criticism for that and ended up deleting the tweet.

    This isn’t the first time however, last year they asked the question if homosexuals should face execution.

    Reply

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