Rahaf Mohammed: Welcome to Canada

Amidst the seemingly endless stream of dreary news headlines that appear every day, one stood out this month as a shining beacon of hope. Rahaf Mohammed’s story has made national headlines since the world first learned of her situation at the beginning of January. 

While fleeing from her oppressive life in Saudi Arabia and attempting to get to Australia, Rahaf was detained by Thai authorities in the Bangkok airport. In the hotel room where she was being held, Rahaf barricaded herself in and turned to social media for help. Creating a profile on Twitter, she pleaded for help from anyone who would listen. Thankfully, it didn’t take long for the world to hear her. 

The hashtag #SaveRahaf quickly began trending and millions all over the world joined in to advocate for her freedom. While tweeting endlessly to various ministers around the world and United Nations representatives, Rahaf provided updates of her situation as the hours until the flight back to Kuwait she would be forcibly placed on ticked away. Moving a desk to block the bolted door, Rahaf refused to leave unless it was under the protection of the United Nations. 

With over half a million people around the globe rallying to the cause and tweeting about Rahaf, the power of social media prevailed over the Thai authorities who were planning to forcibly return her to Saudi Arabia. Instead, Rahaf left her hotel room under the protection of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Rahaf was granted refugee status, and on January 11th, Canada granted her asylum into the country. 

The next day, Rahaf stepped through the doors into Toronto’s Pearson airport. She was met by Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland who welcomed her to her new home. That welcome was echoed far and wide as people all across the nation reached out on social media to express their joy that Rahaf was safe and free in her new home. 

Here at HerCampus McGill, I'd like to take the opportunity to echo that welcome.

 

Welcome, Rahaf! To Canada, to freedom, and to a better future. 

You have shown the people of this nation, of Saudi Arabia, and of the entire world, what true courage and perseverance looks like. You have shown us the power a single voice. A voice that represents not only yourself but millions of women in Saudi Arabia who will not have the chance to be heard as you were. 

As a young woman myself, writing for many other young women, you have shown me the power of our voice as a community. In Canada, women obviously have far more rights than millions of women around the world. But it is through women like you that we are reminded of how much further we have yet to go. We are reminded that we cannot settle simply because our life here is better than in other countries. We must continue to raise our voices against the oppressive forces that try to silence us and fight for the freedom of all women across the globe. It is through our voice that more women like you will be given the opportunity to live life the way they want to. 

I hope, that in Canada and wherever life may take you in the future, you create the life for yourself you have always imagined. I am rooting for you. HerCampus McGill is rooting for you. Canada is rooting for you. You have done so much already and we can’t wait for you to continue to do great things throughout the rest of your life. 

 

Images obtained from: 

https://twitter.com/rahaf84427714?lang=en&lang=en 

Chris Young / Canadian Press via https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/rahaf-al-qunun-canada-saudi-refug...

https://i0.wp.com/static.independent.co.uk/s3fs-public/thumbnails/image/...