Young Saudi asylum-seeker arrives in Canada to official welcome Jan 13, 2019 0 402 12345 AFPToronto, CanadaA young Saudi woman who caused a sensation by defying her family and seeking asylum abroad was welcomed with open arms in Toronto Saturday at the end of an exhausting international odyssey.Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland greeted Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, 18, after she landed in Toronto, wearing a blue ball cap and a gray hoodie emblazoned in red with the word “CANADA.” Smiling broadly, she posed for photographers with Freeland at her side, but made no statement.“She had a pretty long journey and is exhausted and prefers not to take questions for the moment,” Freeland said. Qunun captured the world’s attention with a trail of Twitter posts that ignited a #SaveRahaf movement as she fled what she said was an abusive family in ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia.Thai authorities backed down on an attempt to deport her after she arrived in Bangkok on a flight from Kuwait a week ago, turning her over to the US’s refugee agency instead. Then on Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the surprise announcement that Canada would take her in.The move is sure to further strain Canada’s relations with the kingdom. That relationship went sideways last August over Ottawa’s rights criticism of Saudi Arabia, prompting Riyadh to expel the Canadian ambassador and sever all trade and investment ties in protest. Canada also sparked fury in Riyadh by demanding the “immediate release” of jailed rights campaigners, including Samar Badawi, the sister of jailed blogger Raif Badawi, whose family lives in Quebec.Qunun’s attempt to flee Saudi Arabia was embraced by rights groups as a beacon of defiance against repression.Ms. al-Qunun’s plight has captured the world’s attention over the past few days, providing a glimpse into the precarious situation of millions of refugees worldwide,” said Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).“Refugee protection today is often under threat and cannot always be assured, but in this instance international refugee law and overriding values of humanity have prevailed.” Raif Badawi’s wife Ensaf Haidar also praised Canada, calling Freeland on Twitter “the real hero” behind efforts to prevent Qunun’s repatriation to Saudi Arabia.Qunun alleged that she was abused by her family–who deny the allegations–and rights groups also said she had renounced Islam, risking prosecution in Saudi Arabia.Qunun first said she was aiming for Australia, where officials had suggested they would give serious consideration to her claim for asylum, which was endorsed as legitimate by the UNHCR on Wednesday. But late Friday Thailand’s immigration police chief Surachate Hakparn said a smiling and cheerful Rahaf was bound for Toronto and had left on a flight after 11pm (1600 GMT).“She chose Canada... (and) Canada said it will accept her,” Surachate told reporters at Bangkok’s main airport.“She is safe now and has good physical and mental health. She is happy.” Qunun left from the same airport where her quest for asylum began in a swift-moving process that defied most norms.On Friday afternoon Qunun posted a cryptic tweet on her profile saying, “I have some good news and some bad news.” Her account was deactivated shortly afterward in response to death threats she had faced, her friends said. Pages 12 RELATED ARTICLES Clashes break out in Yemen’s Hodeida despite ceasefire Jan 13, 2019 0 142 Pompeo ‘optimistic’ Syria Kurds, Turkey can be protected Jan 13, 2019 0 131 Turkey reinforces posts on border with Syria’s Idlib Jan 13, 2019 0 113 Syrian air defences shoot down Israeli missiles, says state media AFP Damascus Syrian air defences shot down Israeli missiles late Friday, the official SANA news agency reported, citing a military source. Most of the missiles fired by “Israeli military planes” were intercepted at .. Egypt police kill six militants in shootout: Interior ministry Cairo: Egyptian police killed six suspected Islamist militants in a shootout early Saturday in the country’s south, the interior ministry said. The clashes broke out during a police raid on a militant hideout in a ..