Saudi Teenager Who Fled Family Embraces All Things Canadian. (O.K., Maybe Not Winter.)

Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun engineered an escape to freedom. Now she has a simpler goal: “I want to do crazy things I’ve never done before.”

Comments: 223

  1. Canada has a long history of accepting and supporting those who fight for their rights. The government of Pierre Elliott Trudeau accepted deserters who refused to fight that despicable war in Viet Nam, myself included. Now under the government of Justin Trudeau, there are Ministers who support courageous folks like Ms. Alqunun. What a contrast to the government south of Canada, as good as its people are.

  2. This girl just changed her own destiny, with the support of Sophie McNeil and the Canadian Government. She impressively fought for her own freedom and in the course of two weeks obtained it. I would not underestimate her ability to do anything such as navigating a sub-freezing and new country. The actions & risks that she took indicate someone with enormous potential. I'm so enthralled about this story. Go, Rahaf, go!

  3. @Emma - I fully agree with the gist of your comment, as I'm sure most Canadians do. As for underestimating her ability to navigate a sub-freezing country, I think you are selling the woman a little short. Putting on a coat for a few months a year isn't all that hard.

  4. @Emma Rahaf isn't in the tundra. Toronto weather is about the same as in US cities around the Great Lakes.

  5. @Emma: Having experienced Toronto in winter, I have to agree. This took courage.

  6. We can all celebrate Ms. Alqunun's escape from her oppressive family in Saudi Arabia, an oppressive society. But did Ms. Freeland, the Canadian foreign minister, have to embrace her at the airport, further harming Canada's relations with the Saudis? That might be satisfying, but the goal of Canadian foreign policy should be to patch up relations regaining a diplomatic voice at Riyadh.

  7. @John McDermott I'm actually happy Freeland and Canada didn't back down in front of the bullish Saudi Arabia. Freeland welcome gestures sent a strong message to SA and also to the rest of the world, including US. THIS is how you receive somebody who was oppressed in their own country.

  8. @John McDermott And why is that important, given Canada's fossil fuels?

  9. @Elena You make a good point but it is also important that Canada have an ambassador in Saudi Arabia and vice versa to object to actions e.g. the murder of Jamal Khashoggi as well as the oppression of women. As it is there is no contact between Canada and the kingdom. All Freeland gains from going to the airport is political points. Otherwise I am overjoyed that Ms. Alqunun is safe in Canada.

  10. A new Malala! I wish her all the best.

  11. Malala was nearly killed and the government actively supported her bid to settle abroad. This is nothing like that.

  12. She should have come to Australia, her first choice. We are currently in the middle of a week of over 100F here in Canberra!

  13. Ouch! The whole world watched her try that route and she was met by Australian dithering when she needed refuge.

  14. @Phillip, trust me, there are lots of Canadians thinking about Australia's weather right about now.

  15. @Rebel in Disguise Fair call but things move slower here. For example, Australians love cricket and a "game" can take five (!) days. Canadians love hockey, which is played at a somewhat faster pace.

  16. ms alqunun is to be both applauded and celebrated for her courage and the conviction of her beliefs. the psychological limbo she must have been in having renounced her family, country and its religion, then waiting in an airport for days for some kind of sign of hope from a blatantly hostile and racist like australia, must have been terrifying. full props to canada for circumventing all the oppressive red tape and giving ms alqunun the asylum/sanctuary/freedom she wanted so desperately. and shame on my homeland for its regressive and anglo-centric immigration policies. i - and countless others of my fellow country men and women - wish for her only the best.

  17. They are so afraid to let women have any freedom at all in that country. Further proof that the hand that shakes the cradle rocks the world.

  18. @Galadriel It’s “ the hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world”. Quite different and more powerful.

  19. @Galadriel Women do have freedom in Saudi Arabia. Instead of assuming that they don't based off of a biased media outlet, buy yourself a plane ticket and come see for yourself. Or don't, and continue to look at the world through the keyhole of a door.

  20. When will the #metoo movement start paying attention to the plight of millions of repressed and abused women of various Islamic regimes? At some point you have to stand up and draw a line. If these women have no say or freedom and live in fear, then no, it’s not just another ‘culture’ that we must respect as enlightened western liberals. While there is a lot of grey area in the world, there is also clear right and wrong.

  21. @Nathan - Women, around the world, in every culture, suffer abuse. To single out Islam is specious. Many of the customs which are implicit in your comment are not limited (in the countries which in which they are common) to Muslims. Furtermore, to single out the #MeToo movement in this context is to misunderstand #MeToo in the first place. #MeToo is one thing - women themselves speaking up about what has happened to them. It raises consciousness, it shows others they are not alone, and it has effected a change (albeit small) in how our western societies see sexual harassment. The abuse of women, the generalized misogyny, and patriarchal culture across the globe is a superset of the problem that makes #MeToo necessary and powerful. Those who support the right of women to their own bodily integrity, to their agency, to their human rights, already draw a line at the practices that violate women irrespective of religion. Condemnation of Islam, specifically within this context, is a red herring.

  22. I agree with the over arching message and thank you for calling out the now chic trend of bashing Islam when and where possible. We cannot conflate this with #metoo and should be wary of attempts by those who attempt to do so. Her family was clearly terrible towards her but their actions have no basis whatsoever in Islam, its tradition or its sacred law. The fact that more Muslim men seem to want to hide behind ‘religiosity’ when committing horrendous actions cannot be a reason for us to blackball a religion.

  23. @Andy So let me get this right. Its okay because other people do it too?

  24. I applaud Canada, my native land, where strong women are celebrated rather than feared. It sounds like her life was at least tolerable until she was handed over to her abusive brother. Why did her father allow this? What kind of parent lets one child torture another? His anger is misdirected, and the entire family should be deeply ashamed.

  25. @KJ. Hi KJ. Have you read Tara Westover's book "Educated"?

  26. I hope Canada gives her a security detail. The Saudis must be enraged and we know what they do to citizens who speak out against them now. I'm still suspicious of the two Saudi teen girls found dead in NYC river.

  27. It will be a challenging road ahead just to learn English, get settled, make sufficient friends that they can fill in some of what she will come to miss without family. Then she will need an entry level job, which will not pay much and may make continuing her schooling difficult, at least for a while. I truly help she has the determination to see it all through. Refugees have a very difficult path for years. I wish her well.

  28. It will be hard but at least it’s Canada. Minimum wage is $14/hr, tuition is around 6k a year, she has no medical costs, and university students have four summer months off each year to work. Plus generous interest free loans. Hard but doable and imho fewer catch-22s than the US

  29. @Anne-Marie Hislop, I agree, but compared with the life she left behind, the challenges ahead must look like stepping stones rather than hurdles.

  30. @Anne-Marie Hislop I would like you to know that that I was just like her at same age living in an Islamic country, I hated it. I left with a few dollars in my pocket. That was the happiest day of my life. I became fluent in English within 6 months. I went to university and obtained two degrees effortlessly and payed for them by working part time. Today I own a commercial building in Denver and two beautiful houses I designed and built in Canada. stop being concerned about this young brave lady she has every thing it takes to succeed. I literally had no help from any one and never relied on government assistance whatsoever.

  31. She’s young, in due time she’ll realize the mistake that she made. I don’t think it was wise for the UN and Western countries to facilitate her escape. Different countries have different customs. That doesn’t mean they are refugees.

  32. @Ed...mistake? She should be lauded for her bravery at her age to cut ties with her family and country. People will go to extraordinary lengths for individual freedom.

  33. @Ed Saudi "customs" include: - Women cannot even open a bank account, much less travel or get a job or education, without consent of a male family member - Public facilities have segregated locations, hours, and/or entrances for men and for women - Apostasy from the state religion is a capital crime - Atheism is defined as terrorism and punishable by up to 20 years in prison Doesn't sound like a mistake to flee such "customs", and I think it takes a particular sort of blindness to reality to think that leaving was unwise.

  34. In response to your comment, no, Ed, there is no evidence here that her escape was facilitated by any western government. She appears to have escaped without western support, and it is her subsequent plea for asylum that was granted by Canada. As far as you claim "Different countries have different customs. That doesn’t mean they are refugees." Please note the following excerpt from the article, which provides some details of basic human rights violations: "..After she cut her hair in a way her family did not approve, her brother locked her in a room for six months, she said. A few months ago, when she removed her niqab, he beat her and locked her up again..." Beating her and locking her up violate basic human rights. My bigger concerns include that she has offended a regime that kills dissidents. She might be targeted and killed by the Saudi government for her actions. She will also need to navigate the difficulty of assimilating into a culture very different than the one she left at a time in life when most people are struggling to transition into adulthood. Although the Canadian government provides assistance with the immigration and assimilation aspects of her transitions, she will also need someone to mentor her with the tremendous changes she is undergoing.

  35. Thank you Canada, for doing the right thing and welcoming a refugee. May she go on to be a productive member of your society. I am old enough to remember when the United Stated would have welcomed her, just as easily... And don't forget to teach her the proper way to end a sentence, eh!

  36. @David A. Paris America accepts more LEGAL immigrants each year then any other county.

  37. Not on a per capita basis. In the US, 13.5% of the population are immigrants. In Canada it’s 21.9%.

  38. @Sara percentages mean nothing when you talk about the vast differences in number. So dont pat yourself on the back too soon yet.

  39. Isn’t it sad that she went to Canada instead of the U.S., and no one finds it remarkable. I suppose there was a day when we would have been the obvious refuge. But no more. I’m thinking a lot about Canada myself.

  40. @Donalan And Rand Paul is going there too, for medical care, despite his platinum level health insurance as a US Senator

  41. @Donalan Rahaf stated that she wanted to go to Canada, US, UK, or Australia. Canada was the one that stepped up most quickly, so that's where she has gone. I wonder whether the Trump administration even lifted a finger to start the process of accepting her. Can the NYTimes tell us?

  42. @ToddA Trump's reply: "I haven't really kept up with that matter."

  43. What a horrible irony that in America, the hijab has been refashioned by left wing social justice activists into a symbol of feminism and resistance; while meanwhile, halfway across the globe, women who are forced to cover their hair, if not their entire faces, would literally risk their lives for a chance to live in open societies like the U.S. and Canada for which the aforementioned social justice activists profess such unfettered disdain.

  44. @Michael the point is free choice, right?

  45. @Michael I am a member of the left and I totally agree. Why did you get so caught up in political correctness that we can't point out an inhumane practice of another culture. Of course, we need to avoid demonizing an entire group of people. #NoHaijab

  46. @Michael, not so ironic. Western Muslim women want what Ms. Alqunun does: the right to live their own life their own way. Saudi-style Islam is no more typical of that religion than the Spanish Inquisition is of modern Christianity. Who are you to tell Muslim women not to wear the hijab?

  47. As much as I applaud my country for helping this ONE refugee out of a mess, it is also clearly a poke in the eye at Saudi Arabia for its overly harsh rebuke of the remarks of Christia Freeland, the Canadian Foreign Minister. I don't see the floodgates opening anytime soon for more girls from SA or other repressive regimes. It may also be a poke in the eye to Trump and Co for their anti-Muslim position. And it won't hurt Trudeau's chances in getting reelected in the next federal election.

  48. @mdroy100 just dont get to ambitious or too liberal...remember what happend to Angela Merkel in Germany....too many too soon and not prepared...really backfired.....so it should be carefully managed....otherwise Canada will fall victim to gaming of the system.

  49. There is huge social change coming to countries with traditional family systems. Indian nationalism has risen as a result of the quick abandonment of these norms by the younger generation who are influenced by social media and other media.This is a single case and it highlights the issue, but does nothing to solve the bigger issue which is that people are Living double lives in countries where the older generation still rules for the younger generation has abandoned the values of the older generation.

  50. Probably there are quite a few girls who think they are not respected enough by parents in the world (Japan included) but not so many who think they are not even loved. There are so many incidents in Saudi Arabia which makes me doubt the human nature I have taken for granted. If it is not shared by all the peoples and somehow nurtured by a culture or tradition held by people, then perhaps we are allowed to make a judgement on cultures to a certain extent. The Saudi Arabian one is not something we can tolerate. We have to stand on the side of a country which makes that clear.

  51. Such a reprieve from the monotonous flow of greed and suffocation. she's served as beacon of hope and inspiration having taken hold of her life against such odds. Makes me smile and remember that still today empathy and humanity still has a palpable foot print amongst us. Brave, faithful. She restored my hope. Best event in recent days. I'm so happy for her.

  52. I hope the media backs off and gives Rahaf space to collect herself, adjust and finish college, and the Canadian government gives her security and a family to help her through the challenges she will face.

  53. Congratulations to this courageous young woman on standing up for her rights against the misogyny of the despicable culture she was brought up in. I hope she thrives in her new home.

  54. best thing I've heard of late. Pretty symbolic to say the least but More, I believe serves as a reminder that freedom of expression Is tantamount to a meaning full life. I'm happy for her and Canada's decision in providing for her. I think she's off to a great new start.

  55. Complete side note: I marvel that an 18 year old refuge who has been in Canada for mere days has full health insurance, and millions of hard working Americans do not.

  56. @Jennifer S I remember my own experience as a refugee just landed in Canada, 34 years ago. I got the same arrangement from the local government, financial support for a year, an apartment, ESL classes ... I remember 2 or 3 days after my arrival, I went to see a doctor because of ... constipation while my health card had not arrived yet.

  57. @Jennifer S The article did not say that; it said "refugee settlement workers will also help her get health insurance, a social insurance number and bank account".

  58. @Jennifer S I was thinking the same thing. I wish I could qualify as a political refugee from the United States and flee to Canada and get national healthcare insurance.

  59. I hope she writes a book about this, once she gets settled in.

  60. A hearty welcome to life renewed. I wish her a tramemendous future. One free, so many more to save!

  61. She and Khashoggi, the murdered journalist will do more to modernize SA than MBS ever can. Change has to be bottoms-up, not top driven. Good for her! Enjoy your new life!

  62. @Mehul Shah Sorry, but Khashoggi never made any change at all here. In fact, he strongly supported the initiatives that MBS had already undertaken, but didn't like how he was doing it. So he decides to work under the guise as an innocent reporter while trying to secretively undermine the government. This is no secret to many. Ultimately, I don't support what happened to him but he certainly knew that he was playing with fire.

  63. Every sizeable Canadian city has volunteer support services for refugees and immigrants. The support includes one on one support to understand public transit, shopping, money management, schooling, and all things Canadian. Meantime in the United States there are many Americans who do the same with compassion. The difference is that the refugees first have to get through a gauntlet of politicians, soldiers, family separation, and inadequate health services - a great welcome.

  64. Rahaf will soon find out that freedom has its responsibility, as well. She has to do everything on her own now. She has to get up in the morning, go to work, earn her money, pay the bills, arrange her housing, etc. In Saudi, probably he didn't do any of these things. If she doesn't succeed and feel satisfied, she may become disillusioned and may go back. Or she may become addicted to something. Never know.

  65. @Alex E - Yep, I'd stick with the arranged forced marriage, paternal-transferred-to-husband-controlled life for the rest of my days…

  66. @Alex E Poor Alex, I never realized freedom was so oppressive. We already know quite a bit about the prospects for someone fleeing their homeland, leaving their family behind. The most wrenching part is being cut off from family, not the drudgery of getting up in the morning. Are you onto something that is not widely known? Do disillusioned refugees become part of our opioid user groups at higher rates than US born?

  67. @vishmael... It would be interesting to see how many in her kind of situation actually return home....are there any facts , figures, statistics ?

  68. I so admire her courage - and that of the Canadian Government. "Evil prevails when good people do nothing..." here's what happens when good people do something: freedom.

  69. I noticed that she hopes to take architecture at university. Who will pay for that? I just informed a grandchild that he will have to work for some of his costs. I hope she plans to work.

  70. @Pikim With what she has gone thru, your worry is who is going to pay for her education? And somehow I think you've probably helped your grandchild a lot more over the years than Rahaf's grandparents helped her.

  71. @Pikim That just sounds like the politics of petty resentments. Being an architect IS work. As for study to get there...loans, scholarships, part-time work: its all part of the picture of how one gets there.

  72. This story makes me proud to be a Canadian. We have always been a beacon for human rights. I hope that all refugees willing to take the risk and work hard come to this country. All the best to Rahaf, she will do just fine in Canada.

  73. @Trento Cloz ... not always, lest we forget the dark days of Stephen Harper. But we're back on track and it feels good again to be Canadian.

  74. @Trento Cloz Good. There's literally over a billion heading your way right now. Double your taxes and have fun!

  75. @Trento Cloz Yes I remember that great humanitarian, Governor General Vincent Massey who announced before WWII that no Jews would come to Canada on his watch.

  76. There is so much publicity about this and everyone knows her face. Isn't she afraid of reprisals?

  77. First of all welcome . . . . now slow done and smell . . . the snow :) . . . big snow storm coming this week-end so it should be great fun for those not familiar with such things . . . so enjoy. Kid, you are 18 plenty of time to change the world. Settle in, try to listen to those helping you ( I know having raised with my wife teenagers and many moons ago being one) that can be hard at times. Take advantage of opportunities presented you to get an education, go skiing, make new friends, go to parties, have fun... you are young so enjoy being young and when it is your time and you are ready and able . . . pay it forward by helping others.

  78. So proud to be a neighbor and friend of the great country of Canada. This story makes me think about how lucky we are to live in place where we are free. I shudder to think about an alternative like Saudi Arabia where the head of the Saudi government-funded National Society for Human Rights accused countries of inciting “Saudi female delinquents” to rebel against their family values and seek asylum. It's a bit Orwellian to think that the Saudi's call this a National Society for Human Rights.

  79. "Over the next few weeks, refugee settlement workers will also help her get health insurance, a social insurance number and bank account. They will help her find an apartment and furnish it." Wow, one country away but sounds like a different (heavenly) planet. Winning the lottery. Good for her.

  80. I wish Ms. Alqunun nothing but the best. And while I am sympathetic toward her and proud of my country for giving her a new life of freedom and opportunity, I can’t help but spare a thought for those thousands of other refugees, equally deserving, drowning in the Mediterranean Sea, being slaughtered by the Myanmarese army, or having their children torn from their arms at the U.S. southern border. To take in one refugee is easy. It doesn’t move us an inch toward the real goal, which is a fair and just world for all.

  81. @Thomas Morgan Philip Very well said. This young woman had the resources those others you mentioned don't. We can't only care about the refugees with Twitter feeds.

  82. @Thomas Morgan Philip Indeed. The power of putting a name and a story on a refugee face cannot be underestimated....

  83. @Thomas Morgan Philip It does move the world forward, if only an inch. Progress is often slow, but it is progress nonetheless.

  84. Perhaps a future Canadian ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

  85. @vishmael Considering what happened to Jamal Kashoggi in a Saudi embassy in a sovereign country, I would suggest she stay as far away as possible for the rest of her life.

  86. I'm pleased Canada offered asylum to this 18 year old. I'm less pleased with the way her social profile is being exploited by both the government and the media. The transition from child to adult in one's late teens is filled with challenges. Being granted "star personality" status will not make her successful transition to full adulthood an easy one. In the absence of caring family, she will benefit most from the attentions of caring adults who try to help her adjust both to her new country and to her new status. Let's hope the people who have rallied to her cause are more interested in her future than in their own.

  87. @formerpolitician She is hardly a "child", and is no doubt much more mature than the typical North American eighteen-year-old. She has faced situations and decisions unimaginable to a Western teenager. Remember Malala Yousafzai, who at a younger age could move the world (though in her case she had the support of her family).

  88. I've been following this since she arrived in Bangkok. I am just so happy for her. Such a promising young lady. Good on Canada, too. A huge gain both for her and for them. A happy ending seems to be very much in the offing. I wish her all the best there, and in her future.

  89. Given the opportunity, we can all thrive. And she will! This situation is an example of kindness, generosity, understanding, compassion, . . . . in short, Canadian. We've got lots of problems and issues up here, and much to learn to be better for everyone, this is progress

  90. Thank you Canada! I wish her well in her new life and hope she thrives, living the life she comes to envision.

  91. I am still heartbroken about the January 13th NYT op ed regarding Loujain al-Hathloul, the young Saudi activist who fought for the right for Saudi women to drive. She and other are now imprisoned by the Saudi government. Her sister states that she has been held in solitary confinement, beaten, waterboarded, given electric shocks, sexually harassed and threatened with rape and murder. How can the Trump administration continue to cozy up to the Saudi government given the atrocities happening in Yemen, the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and now this? When the US ignores human rights violations it shows we are weak. Congress needs to hold the Trump administration accountable for this inaction. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo must explain to Congress and the American people the US strategy with Saudi Arabia and how we intend to deal with these issues.

  92. @Julie As long as the current occupant of the Oval Office values money over morality, we are impotent. Change cannot come for us too soon.

  93. @Julie Forget Trump and the Republicans being humanitarians--their only interest is having the rich get richer, and reducing their own taxes. Things will only get better when they are out of power and the US has a Democrat president and congress. Think Franklin Roosevelt--the best president the US has ever had.

  94. @Julie Lovely allies you have indeed.

  95. There are so many things upbeat about this whole story. Alqunun heads toward Australia, but is eventually rescued by Canada. No one would counsel her to get near the US, she would be on a plane back to her family in minutes. At the same time, the starring role of Canada and the villain role of Saudi Arabia is almost entirely due to our president. It is a new era in which the horrors of female subjugation can be displayed by one rebellious teenage girl with access to a credit card and lots of guts. As others have pointed out, there are also downsides. For one, this is more possible for a Saudi girl than for a Yemeni or Syrian girl. For another, her sister remains locked in the nasty embrace of the family, probably carefully watched now. Maybe someday the US can return to a role as one of the world's beacons of opportunity, although I doubt we will ever have a foreign minister who wears red tennis shoes to be a bit less intimidating to this refugee.

  96. @WHM. Yup, I, too, noticed the garb of the Canadian minister and smiled. This is why we need more women in Govt. - their forethought and compassion. I look toward the youth of the world to continue human evolution toward a kinder, more compassionate world. Stories of their courage give me hope for our species.

  97. @WHM Americans are not the reason for sexist Saudi culture. Stop that.

  98. Bravo Canada!

  99. She is a rare, fortunate Saudi woman. How many of the millions of oppressed women in SA could possibly escape the way Alqunun has? I say Brava for her, and all best wishes for a happy and successful future.

  100. @J.Sutton The reality is that 99% of the women in Saudi Arabia are doing just fine and have zero aspirations of "escaping" their homeland or families. Why? Because life isn't nearly as bad an 18 y/o kid is making it out to be. Sometimes it's best not to collect your knowledge from online sources.

  101. Probably fortunate to be given refugee status by Canada. In the US Trump would more than likely send her back to ensure that Saudi Arabia would continue to buy American products.

  102. Welcome to Canada, where we have two seasons: winter and construction. Which one is worse is a topic she'll no doubt start debating in a few months time while she has a few double doubles at Tims with friends.

  103. WOW! I am impressed by the courage and tenacity of Ms. Alqunun. Good for her and great for Canada that has a worthy program of accepting refugees. Unfortunately, in this country, ICE would round her up and spit her back to not an uncertain future, but of a certain future of death by her family! I hope she can achieve her goals and continues to reach beyond what others expect of her!

  104. That's fake news; she went through a legal asylum process in Canada. We have the same process in the US. Unfortunately, too many have chosen to bypass it.

  105. @pete Thanks for pointing this out to all of the Open Borders people although I doubt any of them care about facts.

  106. If she thinks that she is beyond the reach of her family for an honor killing, she is mistaken. From their point of view, It was bad enough that she ran away, but her media attention cannot be sitting well with the family. It wouldn't be hard to find someone to attack her Toronto. I think she should try to keep a lower profile.

  107. @S.L. "If she thinks that she is beyond the reach of her family for an honor killing..." I think she will be fine. Overblown hype.

  108. @S.L. Please do not use that phrase, 'honor killing'. Call it what it is: femicide, or at the very least murder. May I point out that even well-meaning Saudi families are caught in a bind:how do you protect your children in a country where mobility is circumscribed and religious beliefs compulsory?

  109. @ S North Mobility is circumscribed? No it isn't. My wife is Saudi and drives my kids to ballet and soccer practice every other day. She was in Dubai during New Years' ALL without my permission. The Crown Prince removed the authority from the muttawa (religious police) a few years back. So how is religion compulsory again? Of course, Islam is the religion here as it is in several other countries. However, I don't see you and many others complaining about the millions of Indonesians and Malaysians practicing it over there? Question: Do you think honor killings are a common occurrence within Saudi Arabia?

  110. Ms. Alqunun is lucky she got alive. Hopefully, she will stay that way. From experience, I know the family will not stop until they murder her because this is a matter of regaining their lost family honor. I hope the Canadian government understands that she needs to be hidden and protected from her family. It is very dangerous for her to be out in the open and for the media to announce where she is living. The Saudi government will also go to great lengths to punish her by death. I hope they hide her ASAP. She needs to change her name and move to an undisclosed city.

  111. @Sick of politics I don't think honor killing is common in Saudi Arabia, I have heard of it in other places but not SA. In SA, she would be locked up by family as mentioned in the article but families do not go around killing their members. I seriously doubt they would even consider doing it outside their country. Do you know of any accounts of honor killings in Saudi Arabia? Now the government hiding/torturing/killing people that they view as threats does happen in Saudi Arabia.

  112. @AN Thousands of women are murdered in honor killings in the Middle East and East Asia every year. Do you research.

  113. @Sasha Love I did some research before posting. It is commonly mentioned in the news for Pakistan (not a middle eastern country) and cases do occur in the middle east as it does in many non-middle eastern countries. In fact, it even occurs in the USA, just doesn't get labeled that way here. Anyway, I do not find cases online for Saudi Arabia to indicate it is common or the norm.

  114. She must stay cautious at all times. Just because she is in Canada does not mean she is beyond reach of her family. An 'honor' murder is not out of the sphere of possibility. Her final destination or location must not be disclosed.

  115. @kl....I dont think the press can keep thier mouths shut....Her location/where abouts will be revealed - all part of a newscycle to keep subscriber levels up...

  116. Having been weened on political assassinations and death I agree with the commentators here who warn that she is an assassination waiting to happen. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty and that means more than just looking over your shoulder although in this case it means that too. It's a lot for a teenager. I'm powerless to do anything except pray for her and hope that she surrounds herself with people she can trust and who will also have her back. "Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it." --Thomas Paine

  117. @Susan Murphy the word is "weaned."

  118. I applaud my government's stand in favour of the human rights of Saudi Arabian women. Now I hope they take the same stand for indigenous women here at home who might not be as photogenic or have same access to resources that Ms. Alqunun had to aid her flight. I also pray for the hundreds of thousands of young women who have been forced to flee their homes, not while on vacation with a ticket to Australia in their hands, but at dead of night, often under threat of starvation, sexual assault or death. Should they get Twitter accounts and post glamour shots of themselves? I hope that Ms. Alqunun really does settle in, learn English, get and education and live a normal life. I know that she has some very good people and agencies supporting her. But the media spotlight is very seductive and she's only 18. I'd hate for her to become Canada's version of the Kardashians.

  119. @laura174 Glad you enjoy this. Also enjoy paying for her food, shelter, salary, education and more. And since you did it for her, it would be unfair not to do it for the thousand that will follow her example. Enjoy paying for all of them too.

  120. @AutumnLeaf You pay for Trump to go golfing every weekend. I think I'm getting a better return on my investment.

  121. Imagine the US showing some guts and doing what Canada did eh? This used to be how the US behaved not too long ago - it had moral weight backing its considerable financial and military weight - now everything about the US looks so warped - we appear as poor country cousins to our western brethren - nay we appear worse than some failed countries elsewhere...sad.

  122. Thank you Canada. Someone needs to be the wise caring adult and at the moment it ain’t us. We hope to join you again, before too long, in the quest for liberty and justice for all. Your old pal, USA

  123. Looks like a lot of postings suggesting she keep a low profile, "for her own safety". That sound to me like mildly-worded threats, so that she not publicise the horrendous human rights situation in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi system has no hope of surviving in an open, liberal world, yet Saudi Arabia is deeply dependent on its alliances with that world. On the one hand, the KSA is threatened by a bigger, stronger but less repressive Iran, on the other by the ideals of the liberal democracies which prop it up against the Shia. The KSA is very much in danger of losing the support of the West, entirely of its own doing. Or perhaps the century-long catastrophic treatment of Iran by the West will reverse itself, since the Shia are far more natural allies of the West than the Wahhabi KSA, as if 9/11 did not drive that lesson home. A change of alliances is not at all impossible: witness the change of the US vis a vis China and Vietnam since 1974.

  124. Outstanding action, Canada! This is what a true refugee looks like & you gave her asylum, which she deserves. Maybe, after the insecure, dim-witted man who currently is our president is out of office, we Americans can offer her a green card so she can warm her bones up in Florida or Arizona.

  125. Atheist Pride!

  126. "....O Canada, the True North, strong and free...."

  127. So glad this lady had a happy ending. Hope this does not become a precedent and a trend. Or else soon you will have entire airports full of hopefuls clogging the system, just waiting for Canada to come rescue them. Am sorry but moving people from A to B is not the solution. At the end you end up with all people from A being fed by the people of B, until B runs out of resources, and the people from A move to C and so on. Just landing a ship at A to load all people to move them to B is not a solution.

  128. @AutumnLeaf. Are the asylum seekers on the sourthern border really persecuted or is it gaming our system for economic purposes ?

  129. @AutumnLeaf You are of course correct. The best way to prevent the influx of refugees is to stop supporting oppressive regimes and to genuinely support human rights everywhere even, Heaven forfend, at the cost of loosing armaments contracts.

  130. @Sangeet Walla Exactly. You said it right; that would be the long term solution.

  131. This is all very feel-goody but the fact is that the plight of oppressed people needs to be addressed in their home countries. It is not the job of the rest of the world to provide people who are unhappy with a free, furnished apartment and make sure that their biggest challenges are to learn how to grocery shop and ride the bus. Countries have citizens of their own who could use such a nice deal.

  132. @Nadia - Unlike in the U.S., Canadians all have access to free health care and a strong social safety net.

  133. wow, all you kept from this article is the furnished apartment and the grocery shopping manifesto? you are a woman, show some empathy instead of being a Lion's den! this young girl is brave and courageous and I applaud Canada and Australia to open their doors and show true humanity!

  134. @Nadia. Now if we can just get the liberals to understand and accept that !!!

  135. Proud of her bravery and courage. She did what we oppressed females can't do. Good for you habibti Rahaf, you chose a brighter future. Inside every sauid woman is an oppressed Rahaf. Saudi is not the right place to be born as a female. Islamic Saudi is belittling and abusing women as a belonging to their male guardians who can determine her way of life, dress, look and marraige. Human rights have to kick Saudi off their organization. Hope to have the same future as Rahaf' s.

  136. @Maha I wonder is letting/allowing Saudi Women to drive was a publicity stunt to improve Public Relations on a temporary basis or the start of real change....

  137. @DP Yes, it was. By not allowing women to drive, the Saudi dictatorship had become a global laughing stock. It is also very economically driven (no pun intended). Women and their families were paying foreign men a lot of money to drive women around, and that money was mostly leaving Saudi Arabia (sent home by foreign drivers). Other forms of modernization in Saudi Arabia are also being economically driven. The country is trying to decrease oil dependency and diversify its economy, for instance through a growing entertainment industry, which is becoming more open to women consumers (eg movies, sports events, comedy clubs, etc.).

  138. @Asher Taite You're right, there's a lot of economical reasons for these changes. However, why would you agree with the previous poster who said that it's nothing more than a publicity stunt?

  139. Women in SA experience badness on a scale unimaginable to us in the West and The reports of torture used against them are simply indefensible. Canada has shown Greatness and Humanity in a world struggling to find the same. The Red Shoes rock Ms Minister!!

  140. Seems as good a time as any to point this out - The people who initially threatened this girl were not ISIS or Al Queda but her FAMILY. Do you get it now? Islam is not being "hijacked" by extremists. Ordinary everyday Muslims will kill their own daughters/sisters for stepping out of line. Ordinary everyday Muslims will form a mob to kill someone accused of blasphemy. Two Scandinavian backpackers were beheaded (on video) in Morocco, no ISIS connection necessary. And these are examples noted in the Times, not Fox News. No not all Muslims, but we have reason to be concerned about who enters this country from that part of the world.

  141. @Max - Oh, puh-leeze. Your Islamaphobia is obscuring the reality that 99.9% of Muslims take care of and love their family and are peaceful, caring people. A few years ago, Canada accepted 50,000 Syrian refugees, mostly Muslims, and not one of them has caused any sort of problem whatsoever.

  142. You are wrong, Islam as practiced by Saudi’s IS extremist. The Saudi’s practice Wahhabism, and extreme version of Islam which they have spread around the world to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Africa etc. Most of the terrorists around today have links to Saudi funded madrassas. Historically other schools of Islam have been quite tolerant.

  143. @Alexandra Hamilton Shhhhhh! In 2017 every day 117 women were killed in the US by intimate partners or family members..

  144. The US used to be like Canada - stressing human rights to dictators and repressive regimes, welcoming dissidents, welcoming migrants rich and poor. Folks, we have to find our moral compass again, which means taking back our government and calling out the haters around us. We can't rest until the world sees - we're back!

  145. @Triple C When was this 'golden age'? When Jews in Europe were trying to escape death camps, the United States slammed the door shut and left millions to die. The US has never been on the side of truth and justice. Most of the repressive regimes are SUPPORTED by the US. This young woman didn't bother asking the US for help because she knew there was no way she'd succeed, no matter how cute she is. She turned to Canada, a country with a history of welcoming migrants of all races and religions.

  146. @laura174 You are right. Once an immigrant becomes Americanized, he/she immediately wants to close the door on the next group of immigrants. The Irish, the Germans, the eastern Europeans, the Russians and the Jews all got the cold shoulder. The only group that we made strong efforts to help come here were the slaves.

  147. @laura174 We can quibble over the quality of the US's mercy, or of our and Canada's treatment of Native Americans, but the fact is both nations, by and large, have welcomed their share of immigrants. See: Ellis Island, the shores of Florida, the California/Mexico border. And please focus on the aspirations cited in my second paragraph, eh?

  148. One of my former students from the UAE years ago went to Denver for undergraduate school. When he said he 'could do anything' in America, my heart skipped a few beats. It turned out he thought it was great to go shopping at a mall at midnight. Out of context, the 'do anything' statement may unsettle some readers....

  149. Dear Canada, I am in a country with a possible Russian agent running it into the ground. Please, please, help. I need out. Every day I read the paper and I am dumbfounded. Where did my country go? I tried to get residency in your country but I am in my 50s and you don't want me, even though I can support myself. I want to live in Canada and become Canadian but you shut your doors to me, your neighbor, because of my age.

  150. @RCJCHC...I've been to Corvallis OR...beautiful place with lovely people. They seemed to enjoy an endless amount of freedom and that's probably why you were denied.

  151. @Pat Beulah Nope. It was age. Canada grants resident visas on a point basis. Being over 35 is a big hit when adding up the points. Yes, Corvallis is okay. Horrible drinking water though but nice people. I'm tired of my country being run by two parties that ping pong us back and forth, never getting anything done.

  152. @RCJCHC I visit Corvallis 1-2 times a year to see family. Love it there. Please stay and make change with the rest of us who feel the same. I'm in the same age bracket. Don't give up... we need everyone to help!!!! As for Ms. Alqunun - I wish you the best of luck with your new life in Canada! Stay safe and warm with wonderful people.

  153. We are all looking for a comelier way of life, and have a right to seek it out wherever that might be.

  154. It would seem that the rest of the world should see what Saudi Arabia for what it is, a loud mouthed, self important little country that now that their oil reserves are no longer essential is just a pimple on the earth. Apparently the loss of diplomatic relations has little effect on Canada, but here in the USA we have a president that kowtows to them. I wonder why, could it be that they could call in the notes of all the money he owes them?

  155. This is a really great thing for her to escape her murderous family and government. But what about the millions of other Muslim women who are subjugated to similar treatment? Where can they go to? Or do we take in all who want to? This is a very sticky wicket indeed. For this women is not alone here with these problems. There are 10's if not 100s of millions who are similarly affected by this religious predicament. Ask Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

  156. I think it's time to call this what it really is: slavery. When a human being is deprived of body autonomy, the right to make basic decisions, the right to circulate, etc., they are reduced to being the property of others. That is slavery.

  157. Rahaf is clearly intelligent and will become a very productive Canadian. Three cheers for Rahaf and for Canada!

  158. So proud of my country today. Wouldn't have happened without MbS hysterical overreaction to our routine pro-human-rights tweet a few months back. We had less to lose. Good. This is what you get the freedom to do when you stop making accommodations with Power. Everybody has always known that Saudi Arabia is a medieval kingdom, that is, a cruel dictatorship - that treats women like farm animals. But we've been too deferential to their power to speak up. Once you do, though, there's no denying the justice of the position. I can only grin at the comments here that are written as if Canada were giving her some vast amount of money. Bulletin: 18-year-olds are not heavy consumers of medical services. Nor are our supports for your first few rents and whatnot very generous. She's going to have to get a job, pay taxes, become a citizen who is a benefit to her new country. Canada's single greatest wealth is not our oil, not our "Polar Diamonds", not our Barrick's Gold. It's our reputation. We get all the best immigrants, they flock to us, giving us our choice of educated, hardworking, smart, productive people - now the most valuable thing in a world. The refugees may not go through the rigorous screenings our regular applicants get, but like this girl, they've proven themselves bold and courageous go-getters who stand up to Power. You don't get more Canadian than that.

  159. @roy brander - The best example are the 50,000 Syrian refugees Canada took in a few years ago. They have integrated nicely into life in their new land and I've yet to read a report of any of them causing any serious problems.

  160. While this story has all the ingredients of a happy ending, it's easy to forget there are literally hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees who remain mired in camps, freezing in this cold and damp winter, escaping the actual destruction of their homes and the senseless murder of their loved ones. It's strange that nobody shows outrage at the conditions they live in. It just seems to me that there're more important priorities than saving princesses who are in spats with their families.

  161. @BarneyAndFriends You went from 'ingredients of a happy ending' to saving princesses' all in one post. Amazing feat when you think about it.

  162. @BarneyAndFriends So now it's a "spat" if a father murders his daughter for renouncing the family's religion--because that's what would have happened if they'd been allowed to get their hands on her? Here's a thought: you can stand up for the humanitarian crisis in Syria--which is certainly terrible--without belittling other humanitarian crises, such as the virtual enslavement of women in our ally Saudi Arabia, and the story of one young woman running for her life. And what Syria and Saudi women have in common is the complete and total indifference of America's current administration to these and all other crimes against humanity. Today America is open for business--and only for business. Moral leadership is not a Republican concern--something I never thought I'd live to see from the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Eisenhower.

  163. Way to go, Canada!

  164. If there is one thing I am proud of as a Canadian, it is to be one of the only western countries which stand up to this horrible, middle aged country which is Saudi Arabia

  165. As a Canadian I am proud of this outcome but saddened that the country to our south, homeland of one of my grandfathers & where my great-grandfather as a Canadian doctor served in the Union army, has apparently lost its moral compass. I hope it won't be too long before the US once again becomes the country this brave young woman would have chosen & been welcomed into.

  166. Canada is showing true grit knowing the boy prince (MBS) will react harshly to this move.

  167. The US has much to learn from this example, including how to support Canada next time when the Saudis start an diplomatic war. But just focus on immigration for a moment. Trump likes to point out that Canada has a system that, through points, awards certain skills and attributes in a merit-based system. That is true. But Canada ALSO has immigration policies that support families (the infamous "chain migration" to Mr. Melania), and refuges (like Ms. Alqunun). If you want to reform US immigration, you have to look at all three classes of immigrants, not just the wealthy ones who speak the language and have a PhD.

  168. The title may be slightly misleading given the fact that Rahaf at the time this article is being read has hardly been on Canadian soil for over a 3 days period. In light of which, she's is still probably jetlagged, also may still be well in the process of overcoming traumatizing memories tying her to her country of origin moreover the social network of family, friends, acquaintances, and relatives altogether left behind. In that regard, speaking about her as already fully embracing Canadian's way of life almost from right as she exits the airport seems a bit of a stretch even if down the line, that's everything one can wish for her especially after the perils she certainly put herself through to get here. Let's wait some more till her minds clear up. Meanwhile, wishing her well as I have little doubt she won't ever regret her choice, how things turned out for her since last week though there again, it's a bit too early to tell.

  169. Let us not forget that she left behind a family that has "lost face" and that in order to "save face" the male members of that family need to do something that is better not specified here. If she keeps her current identity and maintains this media exposure, Canada will need to provide her with lifelong protection.

  170. I'm so happy for this woman and her courage to go to somewhere different, that will free her from the shackles of her culture, and to leave her family which is not easy since even though there are those who wish her harm there are some who may not agree with it but have to be quiet about it within a repressive environment. She absolutely deserves to live life to the fullest.

  171. I would only caution this young woman to change her name and her identity, and go somewhere where she cannot be easily found! The history of Saudi society is filled with women "being punished--i.e. being killed" for minor offenses like dancing! Unfortunately, she really isn't safe, even in Canada!

  172. Fortunately she's good looking enough that Trump won't demand that we build a wall on our northern border to keep her out.

  173. My heart brims with happiness for her!

  174. My concern would be for her safety. The friends and family of this young woman could find her in Canada and possibly harm her. I hope she is prudent in her actions and behavior. In the end, she should enjoy the freedoms and enjoyments of any other young person regardless of their ethnicity or religion.

  175. Is it time to start thinking about moving the Statue of Liberty to Toronto? The Canadians seem to take seriously the part about "huddled masses yearning to breath free."

  176. I wish she could have come here, but under the current administration, she would have been sent back to Saudi Arabia the minute she landed and she would have disappeared, never to be heard of again. Trump would have probably handed her over personally to the crown prince so he would know that every thing was okay between his administration and the House of Saud, and oh, don't forget to write that check for those military weapons on returning of the young woman;-) Yes, a joke, but hardly one that is unrealistic after what I have seen the past year in regards to how Trump bows to the House of Saud. Oh, and she is also brown and Trump wants people from Northern Europe to immigrate to the U.S.,.

  177. Rahaf: You are a breeze of fresh air to come out of the kingdom of darkness, fear and oppression known as KSA. Thank you for your unbelievable bravery. Thank you for lighting up the way for other women while risking everything, including life, religion, country and family, for the sake of freedom. Perhaps nothing can express that new-found freedom better than your disarming smile, UNHRC cap, CANADA hoodie and your skirt and boots at the airport as your arrived to Canada. That sight must have brought tears of joy to millions of people who followed you through your ordeal, supported you supported you and hoped against hope for a happy ending of your story. You just looked happy, confident, peaceful, and gorgeous, like girls your age should be. Love you gorgeous. Keep shining, All the best.

  178. Looking back, people who thought China would join the modern world is been mistaken twice, 'cuz the Saudi, despite 50 solid years of wealth are still medieval ruled.

  179. Toronto's a great place! She's going to do very well.

  180. Welcome to North America! That's the best I can do, being from the USA. In the past maybe you would have been granted asylum here. Canada is pretty terrific. Very happy for you. Drive, wear jeans, have fun.

  181. Welcome Ms. Alqunun!

  182. Welcome to Canada. Snow and cold weather won't hurt you. Your heart and spirit will be warm and that's what counts.

  183. @Lynn Actually, in a way not known in heat, cold weather will assuredly kill you pretty quickly if you don’t dress properly. These are some of the first and most important things she needs to know. I’d advise not taking cold-weather advice from Toronto, the city that called in the army for a snowfall :o)

  184. Glad that she gets to lead the life that she wants. However, she should stop trying to correlate her own experience with the rest of the women in Saudi Arabia. The reality is far different from the one she's painting for everyone, with the facts being that she represents <1% of the females living here. Before anyone attempts to refute this with their wikifacts and online knowledge, I am an American living in Saudi Arabia 10+ years that is married to a Saudi woman. ....And no she doesn't need my permission to do any of the nonsense that Rahaf is claiming wasn't afforded to her.

  185. I am sorry, I cannot believe anything a man in Saudi Arabia says about what life is like for women there. Only women can truly speak for their experience. And because some men are decent I am sure there are some women who have no problem with guardianship. But for women in the power of toxic males existence there must be horrendous. Men abuse women all over the world but at least in some countries women have the right to object.

  186. @Alexandra Hamilton So generous of you to concede that some men are decent.

  187. @David You are an American man- your life, and how you treat your wife, are completely different from native born Saudi women with traditional men running their lives.

  188. When this story broke last week my 1st hope was for her to go to Canada. She will be treated well there, welcomed, educated and she can enjoy a happy life there free from the immigrant hatred rampant in other countries, mostly USA. What a shame, she could have been a real asset to America but today's America only vilifies foreigners.

  189. rahaf, please, please, please help educate millions of people about what life is like in saudi arabia. people in the west are hungry to know more about it. and thank you for being such a brave person. looking forward to hearing more from rahaf. peace n love, eddie

  190. It's so great to see a Saudi woman without a dehumanizing black shroud. Good for her!

  191. I am glad she is safe in Canada. However my bigger concern is for Canada. Here we have POTUS bullying them. And at the same Saudi Arabia has cut diplomatic ties. We have China issuing all kind of threats because of the arrest of their business leader for extradition. Just today they issued a death sentence to a Canadian citizen. I hope Canada and its people remain strong. We should have been doing things that Canada has done but now we cuddle dictators and build walls. Statue of Liberty would look so much better in Toronto harbor. In November 2020 all this will change - We will make America really great again.

  192. She will eventually realize she has abandoned her family. And she'll want to go home to make amends.

  193. @Rolf If so, she will probably not live long. Blood relations are not the be-all and end-all. Abuse is abuse, not matter who does the abusing.

  194. @Rolf Rolf, some families should be abandoned. Neither you nor I knows enough about this particular case to know for certain, but we all know enough about the general treatment of women in Saudi Arabia to have a pretty good idea that she is behaving in her own best interest for the long term. Maybe she will try to establish contact and even to help her sisters, but as to her probable abusers, I'm pretty sure she is better off without them.

  195. @Rolf There’s no technical reason she can’t communicate with them in any number of ways if she wants.

  196. Imagine if a Canadian teenager runs to another country because of allegations of family abuse. Most people would say that the Canadian child/adult protective services or government should be in charge.

  197. @hmlty Canadian culture does not demand that a woman have a male guardian. I read a story yesterday about a widow whose son is now her legal guardian. Canadian women have always been allowed to drive. You are using a false analogy.

  198. @nytrosewood I'm not using a false analogy. What you're using is "cultural imperialism" which is a well studied idea and concept.

  199. A remarkably bright and poised young woman. Welcome to Canada . . . I recall once a young Italian student who burst into tears when about to return home. Surprised, I asked her why (Italy is one of my favourite countries to visit); she replied: 'There, I have no freedom . . . everyone - my family, neighbours - always want to know where I go, what I do . . .'. As a male I have never experienced anything remotely what these women experience and have experienced, but I would think even seemingly minor restrictions (as in the case of the Italian) would rub me the wrong way. Now imagine being a female in Saudi Arabia . . .

  200. Where exactly is this teenager going to get all the money to do the crazy things she wants? These charities and donations are nice and all for helping her get started in Canada, but seriously? She has been disowned by her family. She has no skill set. Has she moved to Canada to live off the largesse of the government and special interest groups? Doesn't really sound like freedom.

  201. That’s why she’s going to school to finish her education and learn all the skills she needs to be fully independent. That’s the point of all the resettlement help she’s getting. Obviously she’s very resourceful in escaping in the first place.

  202. Amazing what people will endure to gain their freedom. I think she’ll be just fine. I wish her all the best.

  203. @James R Dupak I am a former refugee -- now US citizen of 3+ decades -- and so are many of my family and friends. I think many Americans tend to underestimate the resilience and resourcefulness of refugees, including teenagers. Often these teens are much more mature than your average US teen. My parents knew many teens, like Rahaf, who came to the US by themselves -- with no family or friends -- yet went onto college, found jobs, and even served in the US military or in professional positions for the federal government (e.g. accountant, scientist, physician) later on. Yes, they required some help up front but in the long run, it actually benefits this country. My mother befriended several and was more or less their surrogate sister or auntie during their formative years.

  204. Good for her. An outcast by despotic Saudi regime, finally can breathe easy and enjoy life, as she should...and deserves. That these United States are willing to call Saudi Arabia it's most valued ally is a mystery, but certainly the sharing of barbarism and cruelty, if not inhumanity, in plain XXI century, is a contradiction and travesty of all we hold dear, freedom and justice for all. Whenever there is institutionalized violence, it behooves us to oppose it, and call truth to power ...from a distance now, given Khashoggi's awful fate on assassin prince Salman's hands (no matter how complicit Trump and Pompeo may be).

  205. Great story and wonderful outcome. I wish Rahaf all the best! It does make me think, however, of all the women living under repressive Islam as well as other fundamentalist religions who would love to break free and do the same. So many. We need to continue speaking out on behalf of all repressed and oppressed people no matter what religion. We cannot pretend that all religions and cultures are equal. It's not okay to control women in any way, shape, or form. Not in the 21st century. It's especially not okay when such cultural norms are not only condoned but enforced by governments and when we ally ourselves with such governments!

  206. Rahaf must be mighty careful. Her life is surely in danger for apostasy and for "damaging" the family, national, and religious honor. She needs legal advice regarding changing her name, erasing her previous identity, hiding her address. She may need plastic surgery.

  207. Congratulations to Rahaf on her immense bravery and new-found safety. What an inspiring young woman acting on her own conscience. And congratulations to Canada for being a beacon of hope to those who seek freedom to live an honest, open life, including the freedom of religion and freedom from religion as outlined in the UN Universal Declarationof Human Rights (which no Muslim-majority country has signed.) More than ever, our world desperately needs Canada’s courage. As for the 13 Muslim-majority countries where apostasy can be punished by death(including Saudi Arabia), while the Quran[2:256] clearly states, "There shall be no compulsion in [the acceptance of] religion” - it seems departure, especially such a public departure, is a different story. Indeed, millions of closeted atheists, agnostics, and ex-Muslim young people have to lie, hide, and live in daily fear because, according to Islamic tradition as outlined in Sahih Bukhari[52:260] "...The Prophet said, 'If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him.” Hence the apostasy laws. Whether that translates to actual capital punishment, or “just” death threats, domestic abuse, being disowned by one’s family, or simply having to lie and live a double life (much like gay people had to do for so long in most Western countries), it’s a tragedy. Let’s let Rahaf inspire us to support more young people who are trying to live free, honest, open lives, no matter the cost.

  208. As a Canadian, I would like to welcome Rahf to my wonderful country and tell her that although she left her family in Saudi Arabia she has become a part of our loving and generous Canadian Family and that as a newcomer, she is not alone. One in five Canadians was born outside of the country, and there is very little anti-immigrant rhetoric here because of this. I would also like her to know that it is not cold every where in Canada. Victoria BC is much warmer (7-10C or upper 40s low 50sF) with little to no snow. The flowers have even started blooming already here.

  209. @Carol A branch of my family lives in Vancouver. Years ago, my cousin remarked Vancouver was the "Florida" of Canada. It was really striking to me because I had never thought of Vancouver -- my favorite city in the world barring my hometown -- in that way but she's right.

  210. This story gives me such hope. At a time when many adults all over the world seem to have no regard for youngsters (putting them in cages, cutting their education funding, and spoiling the air and water they'll inherit, for starters), it's so delightful to hear of a young person fighting passionately for their rights - and winning! I thank you for your inspiring courage, Ms Alqunun.

  211. @Noke The real women with courage were those that came before her and made a success of themselves within Saudi Arabia despite the obstacles. My wife is one of them. Rahaf ran away...

  212. @David One can have courage and stay and one can also have courage and leave. This woman made a difficult decision and I wish her well.

  213. @David, I appreciate your response, and I'm sure your wife is a delightful and courageous person. I've never been to Saudi Arabia, your home. I am sure families in Saudi Arabia are all different, just like they are in America. But, I don't agree with you that remaining in an abusive situation is "courageous." That's an insidious, pernicious idea - abusers often make their victims feel as if they are akin to martyrs, that their pain is valuable (and the abused, having no other identity, sometimes cling to their pain with pride). Abusers twist the truth to the point where they tell themselves that their victims should be grateful for the abuse, and that they are "courageous" for putting up with it. I too am a runaway, and trust me, I've been called a coward. To me, though, it was not a matter of bravery or cowardice, but simply a matter of priorities: did I want to spend my life "courageously" enduring abuse, or did I want to spend my life and energy pursuing other ventures? My only regret is that I didn't leave sooner. I wish you and your family the best.

  214. "In a statement... He called the actions political, not humanitarian." She is EIGHTEEN. By what standard is it OK to imprison adults for no reason?

  215. Soon the politicians, media and Twitter followers will be gone. She will an 18 year old woman with minimal financial resources in a a very foreign country, disowned by her family. She likely no longer has a Saudi passport and therefore will have to stay in Canada. She has the right to do what she did, but it it would hard to overestimate the problems facing her.

  216. @Michael Blazin She will face challenges for sure. Just like the rest of us, either born here or immigrants. That's life. But somehow I think they will be less than what she would have faced back in SA.

  217. 37 million Canadians have her back. She'll do just fine.

  218. Kudos to Canada for welcoming her while Trump would see her as an invading terrorist. Sad.

  219. Her integration into Canadian society will be rough and rocky, but Ms. Alqunun took enormous risks and showed much initiative in orchestrating her escape from Saudi Arabia. She seems to have what it takes not only to succeed for herself, but also to show leadership to guide others seeking to emulate her. Bravo to a brave young lady! O Canada.

  220. To those who think this is an Islamic problem, let me remind you that not very long time ago the same guardianship of women by males existed in almost all western Christian countries in Europe and America. Women got their vote rights in Europe and America just 100 years ago because they were previously not seen as adults. Some western women even got their voting rights much later. Just see Rafah’s case as a universal problem, regardless religion or culture. Women have been (and are still being) oppressed in all societies. Saudi Arabia is just worst for the time being. But all other so called ”civilized countries” in the west were exactly the same just few decades ago. Read the history please instead of throwing up islamophobia.

  221. @Humanity, One word, reformation. Oh and apostasy.

  222. "Nothing is the same,” said one Canadian women’s rights activist, Yasmine Mohammed, who helped raise more than $7,600 for Ms. Alqunun." I was just wondering who will pay for everything else for Ms. Alqunun. She has many dreams, but they all come with price tags and she probably is used to a certain style and standard of life in terms of material comfort. I am sure that there are many Saudi teenagers with dreams stifled by their families. Nice that Canada can take them in. This would seem to be a new type of refugee, different than those from war-torn or crime infested countries or regions.

  223. I’m not a patriot nor a nationalist and I know we have our own problems here in Canada, but this story made me proud of being Canadian. I’m glad our government did not sell our soul for petrodollars and kudos for this brave young woman who managed to make the UN work for once. The UN, who cannot even put out a simple statement condemning the use of chemical weapons in Syria, finally got something done….and of course, shame on you Australia!!