A Saudi teenager who said she feared death if deported back home has now arrived safely in Canada.
Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, 18, shared excited tweets from her flight shortly before she arrived in Toronto airport with the nation’s foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland.
She hit headlines earlier this week after fleeing her family during a visit to Kuwait, before flying to Bangkok.
There, she was stopped by immigration police on January 5, who then denied her entry and seized her passport.
But Rahaf barricaded herself in an airport hotel room to avoid deportation and took her plight onto social media.
She stated that her family had threatened her after she renounced Islam and declared herself an atheist.British man to be caned naked 24 times for drug trafficking in Singapore
‘Physical, emotional and verbal abuse and being imprisoned inside the house for months,’ she told Reuters.
‘They threaten to kill me and prevent me from continuing my education. They won’t let me drive or travel. I am oppressed.
‘I love life and work and I am very ambitious but my family is preventing me from living.’
Rahaf was able to get enough public and diplomatic support through social media that Thai officials admitted her temporarily under the protection of UN officials.
She was then granted refugee status on Wednesday and chose to fly to Canada after they granted her asylum.
Rahaf thanked her followers for their ongoing support, writing: ‘I would like to thank you people for supporting me and saving 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.’What is the US Government Shutdown and what does it mean for the country?
She also shared photographs of herself on her plane, alongside what appeared to be a glass of red wine.
Ms Freeland told reporters as Rahaf arrived in Canada: ‘This a very brave new Canadian.’
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Friday that Canada would accept Rahaf as a refugee.
Her battle to flee her family has highlighted the cause of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, where several women struggle to escape abuse at the hands of their relatives.
Many have been caught trying to seek asylum abroad and returned home, but human rights activists say most cases don’t receive media attention.
Canada’s decision to grant her asylum could further upset the country’s relations with Saudi Arabia.British skier died after suffering heart attack and falling off chairlift
In August, Saudi Arabia expelled Canada’s ambassador to the kingdom and withdrew its own ambassador after Canada’s Foreign Ministry tweeted support for women’s right activists who had been arrested.
The Saudis also sold Canadian investments and ordered their citizens studying in Canada to leave.
Yesterday, Mr Trudeau said that Canada was pleased to give Rahaf asylum as the country ‘understands how important it is to stand up for human rights’.