What Does Canada’s Grant for Asylum to Rahaf Mean to Saudi?

Last updated on January 17th, 2019

A Saudi woman who fled her family midst fear of being killed for her act of abandoning the religion of Allah or Islam, Rahaf al-Qunun, was recently granted asylum by Canada. Saudi and Canada share a bitter past which was contributed to by the North American country’s objection of the kingdom’s arrest of a human rights activist. The move of granting asylum to another Saudi citizen, after Raif Badawi’s family, means the continuity of a cold war between the two nations in the future as well.

Qunun, 18, was stranded at Bangkok’s main airport, with her passport seized by a Saudi diplomat while intending to take a connecting flight to Australia. She was being deported, but the teenager barricaded herself into her airport hotel room and attracted international attention. Besides, even the UN’s refugee agency said that they consider her to be a legitimate refugee, and hence can’t put her life at risk.

Notably, refugee status is normally granted by the governments, but the UNHCR can grant it where states are ” unable or unwilling to do so”, according to its website.

Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau told reporters: “Canada has been unequivocal that we will always stand up for human rights and women’s rights around the world. When the UN made a request of us that we grant Ms. al-Qunun asylum, we accepted.”

“[Her] plight has captured the world’s attention over the past few days, providing a glimpse into the precarious situation of millions of refugees worldwide. Refugee protection today is often under threat and cannot always be assured, but in this instance, international refugee law and overriding values of humanity have prevailed.”

Fighting the odds, Qunun has become an inspiration to women around the world. It really is a shame that male guardianship still exists in the 21st century, and especially in a place like Saudi, where modernization and equality have been used as outright agendas ever since , Mohammed bin Salman became the Crown Prince.

Even though Qunun’s new place is in the exact opposite direction of where she initially wanted to flee, yet she can afford a smile and start her life in the right direction. The ‘new Canadian’ brave heart even changed her name by keeping Rahaf Mohammed and dropping the last name ‘Al Qunun’.

The UNHCR has welcomed Canada’s decision to accept Qunun’s proposal, even though the grant may not be as pleasant in the eyes of the Saudis.

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