Saudi teenager who fled her abusive family for asylum in Canada faces online backlash over before-and-after post of her posing in a bikini next to an image of her in a niqab
- Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun shared the before-and-after pictures on Twitter
- She hailed it as a change ‘from being forced to wear black sheets to being free’
- But she faced a barrage of abuse from her critics in conservative Saudi Arabia
The Saudi teenager who fled the kingdom for Canada last year has been subjected to a barrage of online abuse after posting a picture of herself in a bikini to celebrate her new life.
Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun shared the before-and-after pictures of herself in a niqab and then a bikini on her Twitter account last month.
She hailed the transformation as ‘the biggest change in my life.. from being forced to wear black sheets and being controlled by men to being a free woman’.
However, she quickly came under fire from her critics in conservative Saudi Arabia who said she was making herself ‘naked’.
Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun – who fled Saudi Arabia for asylum in Canada last year – posted these before-and-after pictures on Twitter
The Saudi teenager posted this picture of herself in a bikini – prompting a barrage of abuse from her critics in the ultra-conservative kingdom
Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun wearing a niqab when she lived in Saudi Arabia. She says she was subjected to physical and psychological abuse by her family
Qunun posted the pictures in response to another Twitter user’s call for pictures of ‘major appearance changes’.
Many social media users celebrated her post, saying she ‘looked amazing’ and calling her ‘incredibly brave’.
But she came under attack from a series of online critics, many of whom defended the kingdom she fled in January last year.
‘I really feel sad for people like you, Saudi woman are living in happiness, they are living a normal live they drive, go malls and now they travel alone, plus our prophet Muhammad said that women and men are equal,’ said one person in response.
Another claimed: ‘Nobody forced you to wear anything you don’t want to wear, stop writing stupid things that are not even true.’
Yet another critic wrote: ‘I was checking her previous posts and got to know that she literally got all this fame because she threw hijab away and started clothing like in the second picture.’
After posting the pictures the teenager came under attack from a series of online critics, many of whom defended the kingdom she fled in January last year
Other Twitter users celebrated the Saudi teenager’s post, more than a year after she made international headlines by fleeing the Gulf kingdom
Saudi teenager Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun is welcomed by Canadian foreign minister Chrystia Freeland (right) after arriving in Toronto in January 2019
Many of her critics took aim at the bikini picture, with one asking: ‘From your point of view freedom means naked?’.
Another said: ‘Niqab was never a punishment for us, but may God give your parents some peace and bring you back to Him.’
Qunun was welcomed to Canada last January after the country offered her asylum in the wake of her dramatic departure from Saudi Arabia.
The teenager had drawn global attention with a live-tweeted asylum plea from a Bangkok hotel after fleeing her Saudi family.
She said she was being subjected to physical and psychological abuse from her family the in ultra-conservative kingdom.
The posts ignited a #SaveRahaf movement while rights groups said she had also renounced Islam, risking prosecution in Saudi Arabia.
Her family has denied the allegations of abuse.
The Saudi embassy in Bangkok faced global criticism after allegedly attempting to repatriate her to the Gulf kingdom against her will.
Thai authorities instead turned her over to the UN’s refugee agency before Canadian PM Justin Trudeau announced that his country would welcome her.
Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said the teenager’s escape had ‘captured the world’s attention’.
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