A Saudi teenager has claimed she had been granted asylum in Australia after she fled her “abusive” family and was detained in Bangkok.
Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun captured international attention when she posted on social media and pleaded with fellow passengers to hear her case for asylum. The 18-year-old renounced Islam and said she feared she would be killed for such an action if she was returned to Saudi Arabia.
Ms al-Qunun’s case was referred to Australia by the United Nations’ High Commission for Refugees who decided she was a genuine refugee.
“They (Australia) accepted me, I am so happy! I will start a new life,” she told The Daily Mail in an interview today.
Ms al-Qunun said she would be departing for her new home “soon” and has been assigned an apartment in an unknown town or city. The Australian Government has not confirmed she has or will be granted asylum.
“I survived from death,” she said, reflecting that since the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi consulate in Instabul she has feared for her own life.
“I’m scared to be killed just like him.”
In the interview Ms al-Qunun responded to claims she had manipulated social media to be granted asylum.
“I want life. I want to be independent,” she said. “How can they say this just because I do something they don’t like?”
“I want to become a strong woman, I want freedom of expression, of religion and politics.
“I want to live a normal life.”
The Department of Home Affairs has not confirmed that Ms al-Qunun will be resettled in Australia.
A department spokesman said: “The UNHCR has referred Ms Rahaf Mohammed Al-Qunun to Australia for consideration for refugee resettlement.
“The Department of Home Affairs will consider this referral in the usual way, as it does with all UNHCR referrals.
“The Government will be making no further comment on this matter.”
Yesterday Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said there would be no “special treatment” in the assessment of Ms al-Qunun’s case.
“Nobody wants to see a young girl in distress and she has obviously now found a safe haven in Thailand,” Mr Dutton said.