On Jan. 12, Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, an eighteen year old girl from Saudi Arabia, was granted asylum in Canada after a momentous Twitter campaign in her name. #SaveRahaf went viral earlier this week after Rahaf fled her family in Saudi Arabia and barricaded herself in an airport hotel room in Thailand, where she no longer was safe due to demands from the Saudi Embassy in Thailand.
Rahaf al-Qunuun, tired but relieved to be in Canada and receiving such a warm welcome from Canadians. With COSTI Immigration Services currently planning rest and her next steps as a new Canadian 🇨🇦 pic.twitter.com/tuLn1fx9QH
— UNHCR Canada (@UNHCRCanada) January 12, 2019
There, Rahaf began tweeting about her experience, hoping to gain attention to keep her safe from her family and the Saudi government. She was desperate for help and a safe place to start her own life. Allegedly she had been physically abused by her father and was being forced into an arranged marriage. She feared that if she did not leave the country, she would be killed by her own family. Soon after #SaveRahaf went viral, it caught the attention of the United Nations. Rahaf was then contacted and officially granted asylum into Canada.
I would like to thank you people for supporting me and saiving my life. Truly I have never dreamed of this love and support
You are the spark that would motivate me to be a better person❤️❤️❤️🗽
— Rahaf Mohammed رهف محمد (@rahaf84427714) January 11, 2019
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a statement on Friday, Jan. 11, confirming that Canada would welcome Rahaf into the country, Stating, “Canada has always been unequivocal that we will always stand up for human rights and women’s rights around the world.”
This morning, Rahaf arrived at Toronto Pearson Airport, clad in a Canada sweater, looking exhausted but relieved. According to Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland Rahaf is, “Very, very happy to be in her new home”.
Rahaf did not take any questions following her long connecting flight from South Korea, however it is expected that she will be heard from soon, when she is more settled into her new life. She is an incredible example of bravery, courage and resiliency, her story bringing light to the remaining importance of women’s and human rights issues across the globe. Many activists have stated the necessary recognition that this is not a singular situation. Many individuals internationally fail to seek or receive asylum for domestic human rights issues. Though, Rahaf’s case can still stand as proof that there is always opportunity for growth and change in the efforts that other governments make to help refugees.