The Saudi teen who fled her family and grabbed global attention with a dramatic series of near real-time tweets arrived in Canada on Saturday after being granted asylum there.
Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun ran away earlier this month while traveling in Kuwait. The 18-year-old said her family subjected her to psychological and physical abuse and that she planned to flee to Australia to seek asylum.
She was stopped at an airport in Thailand, however, but barricaded herself in a hotel room there rather than board a scheduled flight back to Kuwait. From the room, she took to Twitter with the help of friends, where news of her plight spread and attracted the attention of Human Rights Watch and the United Nations Refugee Agency, which asked Canada to give her asylum.
“Saudi women fleeing their families can face severe violence from relatives, deprivation of liberty, and other serious harm if returned against their will,” Michael Page, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement on Jan. 6.
Yesterday, after Canada confirmed she’d been given a safe haven there, al-Qunun tweeted to her more than 150,000 Twitter followers.
“I would like to thank you people for supporting me and saiving (sic) my life,” she wrote. “Truly I have never dreamed of this love and support. You are the spark that would motivate me to be a better person.”
The Saudi embassy in Washington didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.