Saudi girl Rahaf Mohammed al-Qanoun, who recently fled her family home in the kingdom and obtained asylum in Canada, said she was thrilled and was born again when she landed at the airport and reached the Canadian city of Torrento.
“She received a lot of love, love and reception,” she said in an interview with The National, aired on the Canadian CBS news network, when she arrived in Canada.
Asked about the media coverage of her story and the Canadian Foreign Minister’s interest in it, she continued that she did not expect, even 1%, to find herself in this situation or to spread her story all over the world.
On her impressions after spending the first weekend in Canada, Rahaf said Canada is a very cold country, its people are very good, and almost as I imagined it.
She feels secure in Canada, because Canada is a very safe country and respects rights.
As for what she had experienced during her adolescence in Saudi Arabia, and made her seek to escape in any way, she said she had been subjected to violence, but she felt she could not achieve her dreams if she continued to live in Saudi Arabia.
As for the types of violence, Rahaf said she was subjected to physical violence, persecution, repression and death threats and six months imprisonment.
When asked about the reason for her death threats and the identity of those who imprisoned her and threatened her with violence, Rahaf said that they first locked her – in reference to her family – because she had cut her hair; because they considered them forbidden and “similar to men forbidden to Islam.” The most violent people were her mother And her brother, who beat and physically assaulted her, sometimes bleeding as a result.
As for the frequency of her beatings, Rahaf explained that the situations during which she was subjected to violent beatings took place within months, but her mother acts on her daily basis because of her lack of commitment to prayer, or for not helping her in the house.
When the announcer asked Rahaf to inform the Canadian people about the nature of adolescent life in Saudi Arabia and to provide examples of the restrictions she was subjected to, which, of course, differed from the situation in Canada, Rahaf said that Saudi women were treated as slaves and were not allowed to make decisions Personal, such as marriage, study and employment, and that they receive instructions from their parents about what to do, and the violator is punished.
Asked about a recent incident in recent weeks or months that made her plan to escape from Saudi Arabia, Rahaf indicated that she had planned this from an early age and made the decision when she was 18; I am not a young person and I am not a minor. I did not want to live for many years in Saudi Arabia, and this age is the right thing to live a normal life.
She said that as long as she lived in Saudi Arabia she would not do anything, pointing out that other women before her tried to change these regimes. , But now they are imprisoned, asserting that they do not want to be like them.
Whether her husband’s ill-treatment or fear of her future made her decide to escape, Rahaf said her decision stemmed from two things, persecution, and no escape from him, especially for women living in Saudi Arabia; because the law does not protect them, as well as Because she wants to be independent and to live her life normally.
When asked to explain the state system in Saudi Arabia, Rahaf explained that the state system is applicable to all Saudi women whose age is 50 or 60 years old. The guardian takes decisions on behalf of his daughter, such as marriage, employment and study, even if one of them enters prison. Consent of guardian.
Asked about the identity of her father, she said that she was her father, and about her father’s role in the violence she suffered, as her mother and brother did. Rahaf explained that her father does not live in the same house. He gave the responsibility to “educate” her brother, who is only a year old , Pointing out that her father was in control of study and function, and government transactions, but her brother was controlling her life in general, such as clothing and eating out of the house and friends.
And whether she was persecuted by her father, denied this; because he does not live with them at home.
She said she had worked to convince her family to travel there; because as long as she remained in Saudi Arabia, she would not be able to leave, but if she arrived in another country, she could leave. Because this is permitted, Adding that she decided to use her leave with her family outside Saudi Arabia to exit without the consent of the guardian.
Asked whether traveling to Kuwait was her plan to escape from Saudi Arabia, Rahaf replied: “Yes.”
“Yes,” she said, indicating that she was afraid because she would risk her life for her freedom, but her biggest fear was if she was caught because she might disappear and not know her fate.
She said that she planned to travel from Kuwait to Thailand and stay there for two days. Because, as I heard, I thought there was no Saudi embassy, and then told her family that she lived in Thailand and tried to disappear from there.
Asked whether she had borne the financial cost of traveling and buying tickets and making arrangements without her family’s knowledge, Rahaf said she arranged all of these things in one day.
When she arrived in Thailand, Rahaf said that a person carrying a sign in her name had met her at the airport and told her that he would help her to get the visa. She said that after taking her passport and waiting for her to guard the police, he told her that her family had reported her, They then imprisoned her and confiscated her passport and all her identity papers.
At the moment, she expected her fate to be the fate of a storyteller of a story a year ago, much like her story, where she was abducted and no one knew what she was going to do. She then thought of the farewell letter that she would write because she was determined not to let them take it, Fully prepared to end her life to prevent her abduction.
On the letter, Rahaf said that she wrote and sent to her friends, and asked them to publish in the event of disappearance: so that the world knows its fate, saying that it still retain.
She said she lived a very difficult situation, and she felt desperate.
The identity of the people behind the attempt to return to Saudi Arabia, Rahaf explained that they were Thai people, and believed that they were from the Thai government, in addition to the person working in the Saudi embassy, and a third of the Kuwaiti Airways, were on the flight to Thailand.
If she thinks that Saudi Arabia has put pressure on Thailand to retrieve it, Rahaf replied, “Yes,” indicating that the Saudi Embassy employee took the hotel reservation and return ticket to prevent me from obtaining the visa, confirming that there was agreement among them.
When she asked about her twittering, some of which indicated that she did not want to talk about her problem, but suddenly decided to tell the world about her problem, she said she decided to go out to the world when she felt that her life was in danger and that she wanted to make it clear to the world that she was a real person. It was necessary to prove her identity, and what is her story and the circumstances she is currently going through.
Asked about the expected impact of the exit on the world, Rahaf said she would not expect to have the desired effect because of a story similar to that of Saudi Arabia, which revealed her identity and published her story, but her fate was the disappearance and thus ruled out anything.
As for her decision to leave the world from Thailand, Rahaf said her life was in danger, that there was nothing to lose, and that she wanted to explain to the world what her story was and what was happening with the Saudi girl.
“If they returned to her family in Saudi Arabia,” she said, “they would kill me.” On the basis of this expectation, Rahaf pointed out that because they broke their restrictions, such as preventing Saudi women from traveling, leaving or even fleeing, especially at the level of their families.
She said her father and brother tried to retrieve her. Asked if her father and brother tried to meet her, she said they had spoken to Thai officials to let them see her, but she refused.
As for the moment when she felt very desperate in Thailand and was afraid of the failure of her plan, she said that she felt very desperate and locked herself in the room when there was only a few hours left to return from Thailand to Kuwait and from there to Saudi Arabia.
Asked how to think of asking for help via Twitter and reaching out to international figures such as the German and Swedish Ambassadors and the Prime Minister of Australia, Rahaf explained that with her life at risk and with only hours left for the return trip, I thought of asking for help from the United Nations, Which may help her save her life.
Rahaf added that she did not receive many reactions on the websites, but she realized that her life would be safe; when the United Nations came to her room.
She said that initially she did not believe that these people were from the United Nations because the Thai or Kuwaiti authorities might resort to pretending to be from the United Nations, so she asked them to prove their identity. When she checked, she opened the door to her room and nearly cried.
Asked whether she had been with her family ever since, Rahaf replied: “No.”
Asked if her family tried to communicate with her, or talked about her in the Saudi media, Rahaf added that she did not know about it, but she learned that her family had published a letter in which she disavowed her.
When the announcer told her that she had a translation of the letter of disavowal from her, in which her family indicated that she had confiscated it, that she had disowned her, described her as a disgraceful daughter, and had violated the teachings and values of Islam.
Asked about her feelings when she read this letter, Rahaf refused to answer and showed signs of sadness. If she expected this letter from her family, Rahaf said, “No,” and began to cry, to give her a minute to call herself.
Asked if she was receiving messages from Saudi girls to help them escape, Rahaf said she had received many messages from Saudi women asking her how to escape and reach her destination.
She said she did not wish to run away because of the danger they might face if they were caught and wished the laws would change in Saudi Arabia. Calling on Saudi women to fight these laws if they do not change, and to escape them.
And the spread of her story on social networking sites on a global scale, and the emergence of responses that lie her story and stresses that the situation is not as described, drew Rahaf that the owners of those responses may live within families understanding, and therefore do not know the details of real life (in Saudi Arabia), there are many women They were arrested and published stories that they can read to know the woman’s situation, stressing that she is an example, asking why she resorts to escape and her family is good.
In response to critics who point out that millions of refugees in the world do not receive such quick treatment, can not go to Canada, while receiving special treatment, Rahaf said her life was in danger and that she might be lucky because she received a quick response.
Asked about her personal security, she said she felt secure in a safe country such as Canada, but she could not confirm that her situation was very safe, especially since everyone knows her and many people hate her, whether from her family or the Saudis.
As for the amount of threats to which she is subjected, Rahaf said that she receives many messages containing threats and insults, more than 100 messages a day.
And how to live with this matter in a decision taken at a high risk, and living in a new country without a single family, and will live in a permanent warning the rest of life ?, Rahaf stressed that this causes fear in the future, especially that she did not want to publish her story Because of fear of being hurt in the future, or being stalked.
She is now living in Canada for 18 years. Rahaf said she wanted to learn the language, experience things she could not try, do new things, take risks, discover life, complete her university education, get a job and enjoy a normal life.
Feeling the freedoms she did not receive one month ago, Rahaf stressed that it was a beautiful feeling and found that it was a feeling worth taking for.
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And whether this feeling is really worth the adventure, losing her family and leaving her own, she said: “In the end I will live; so I have to give up everything in order to live as I want.”
“I’m sure I’ll continue to help Saudi women because I was one of them and I will not forget them,” Rahaf concluded.