By Barry Ellsworth
A Saudi teen who fled alleged abuse by her family and barricaded herself in a Bangkok airport hotel room arrived in Toronto Saturday.
Rahaf Mohammed al-
Her arrival comes after a fascinated international audience followed her flight to freedom that began a week ago.
But last Saturday she was stopped at Bangkok airport by Thai immigration as she tried to connect with a flight to Australia.
She managed to barricade herself in a hotel room at the airport and then embarked on a social media quest via Twitter, telling of her situation and her wish to be given asylum in another country.
The campaign generated enough publicity that Thai officials allowed her to remain in that country under the protection of the UN. She was granted refugee status by the UN, Wednesday.
The UN asked Canada to grant al-
"The [UN High Commissioner for Refugees] has made a request of Canada that we accept Ms. al-
"This is part of a long tradition of Canada engaging constructively and positively in the world and working with our partners, allies and with the United Nations. And when the United Nations made a request of us that we grant Ms. al-
The teen waved to reporters as she walked through the Toronto airport about 10:30 a.m. Saturday, but did not speak to the media.
Freeland spoke briefly to reporters and said al-Qunun was on her way to her “new home” but would not speak to the media because she was exhausted.
But Freeland called her a “very brave new Canadian.”
"She’s very, very happy to be in her new home although she did comment to me about the cold," Freeland said. "I told her it does get warmer."
It was -4C in Toronto.
The teen said her family physically abused her and tried to force her into an arranged marriage, claims that al-
The acceptance of the teen could further damage Saudi Arabia’s relationship with Canada.
In August, the Saudis sold off investments in Canada and told students studying there to leave after Canadian officials called for the immediate release of women’s