Rahaf and Zineb need our help

When I read certain blogs written by Privileged Western White Women who complain a lot, and then read about the plight of a terrified Rahaf barricaded in a hotel room in Thailand, it is starkly clear that the problems of Rahaf, Zineb and PWWW are not quite the same. Frankly, I’m tired of listening to the PWWW (privileged white woman’s whine.)

Rahaf fled her family and Saudi Arabia. Thankfully, and largely due to social media supporters worldwide, she is now in a safe house under UN protection. She is seeking asylum in Australia, and Australia should help her. The fact is, there are thousands of women like Rahaf and it’s tragic. The full story is below and it’s chilling. Which brings to mind another woman I’ve been interested in lately, a journalist here in France. Her name is Zineb El Rhazoui. Known as the most threatened woman in France, she is also the country’s most protected citizen. Everywhere she goes (here in Paris), she is accompanied by a police escort. The French government is protecting her. Women like Rahaf and Zineb are very courageous, and I admire them.

Zineb was a Charlie Hebdo journalist. Yesterday, January 7, marked the four year anniversary of the day the two brothers, Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, forced their way into the offices of the French satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo. To “avenge the Prophet Mohammed”, they gunned down 12 people. Zineb happened to be out of town that day. Since then, she is an ardent and vocal advocate for the right to publicly examine Islam more closely. Is Islam really a religion of peace and love? She dares to ask these questions. She has also publicly declared her atheism. Because she dares, and because she says she’s an atheist, she receives thousands of death threats from French and non-French Muslims. Which is why she has bodyguards.

As for Rahaf, she fears her family will kill her for renouncing Islam, a crime punishable by death under Saudi Arabia’s sharia law. UPDATE: She has been granted asylum in Canada.

Zineb and Rahaf’s dilemmas only highlight my privilege. How lucky I am to be a free and independent woman, born in Canada and living however, wherever, and with whomever I please! Personal choices, all. It is I who chooses how I live, not some cultural or societal or religious diktat. But really, when you think about it, it’s a roll of the dice. I could have been born an oppressed person in a freedom-less, tyrannical, misogynistic country. Luckily I wasn’t. And I treasure my luck every day.


Zineb El Rhazoui, freedom-fighter

From Wikipedia

Zineb El Rhazoui was born in 1982 in Casablanca, Morocco to a French mother and a Moroccan father. She has dual French and Moroccan citizenship.

Growing up in Morocco, she routinely asked critical questions about the subordinate status of women under Islam. In secondary school, she made a point of wearing black nailpolish and low-cut blouses to school, where her teacher was a conservative man with a long beard. “As a woman in a male-dominated country, you sooner or later face a choice. You can comply, let yourself be cowed and shut up, or you can fight.”

Here’s the article in today’s The Guardian concerning Rahaf al-Qunun –


Update – granted asylum in Canada:


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