Canada hired a bodyguard for the Saudi teen refugee who fled her family, because she got so many death threats

Rahaf Mohammed speaks at the COSTI Corvetti Education Centre in Toronto, on January 15, 2019. COSTI have given her a security detail as she feels unsafe.

caption
Rahaf Mohammed speaks at the COSTI Corvetti Education Centre in Toronto, on January 15, 2019. COSTI have given her a security detail as she feels unsafe.
source
REUTERS/Mark Blinch

  • Canada has enlisted private security for the Saudi teen who escaped her family and started a new life in Toronto.
  • Her escape prompted Saudis to send her death threats on Twitter, accusing her of betraying her family and her religion, Islam, which she has renounced.
  • Government contractor COSTI is helping Rahaf Mohammed (who changed her name from Rahaf al-Qunun) to settle into her new life in Canada, their director said on Tuesday.
  • Canada accepted Mohammed on Friday after the UN ruled her a refugee on January 7. The story of her wild escape and hotel barricade went viral on Twitter, prompting UN intervention.

Canada has hired a private bodyguard to protect a Saudi teen refugee who fled her family, after she was sent death threats on Twitter.

Rahaf Mohammed was granted asylum in Canada on Friday after the UN ruled she was refugee. The ruling came after she escaped from Saudi Arabia to Thailand, and went viral by documenting attempts to deport her on Twitter.

Mohammed was previously known as Rahaf al-Qunun. But after arriving in Canada, she dropped her old family name and will use the name Rahaf Mohammed instead.

Saudi teenager Rahaf Mohammed arrived at Toronto Pearson International Airport on Friday.

caption
Saudi teenager Rahaf Mohammed arrived at Toronto Pearson International Airport on Friday.
source
Reuters

Canadian government contractor COSTI is assisting Mohammed adapt to her new life. Its director, Mario Calla, said it has given her security due to “multiple threats received on social media,” at a press conference on Tuesday.

Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch, tweeted that Mohammed had suspended her Twitter on January 10 because of death threats, and Mohammed’s friend Nourah al-Harbi tweeted the same.

The threats are visible on Twitter, and have been noted by INSIDER while reporting on Mohammed’s case. Most of them are written in Arabic and suggest she has disgraced her family and Islam, which she said she had renounced.

After Mohammed arrived in Canada on Friday her family disowned her.

On Tuesday, Calla said Canada was now “concerned about her security” and hired “professional security” to “make sure she never is alone.”

Calla added that Mohammed “sees the risks” of being a refugee and “yes, she was feeling unsafe.”

Mohammed is classified as a “government-assisted refugee” so she’ll get temporary housing and financial support for up to 12 months, Calla said.

Read more: Q&A: The hurdles and obstacles Saudi women runaways face

She will also get English classes, and be taught about her new rights in Canada, Calla said.

He announced COSTI is looking for a permanent family to live with Mohammed, which would make her more secure.

Just before Calla spoke to the crowded news conference in Toronto, Mohammed read a statement in Arabic saying how happy she was to be safe, explaining why she left Saudi Arabia, and what her plans are for the future.