Woman who renounced Islam celebrates 'freedom' by sharing swimsuit post

Woman who renounced Islam celebrates 'freedom' by sharing swimsuit post

A former Muslim woman has received a fury of backlash online after sharing 'before and after' pictures as she celebrates her new life in Canada after fleeing from Saudi Arabia.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, 19, took to Twitter to celebrate one year "being free" by posting side-by-side images of herself. The first shows her wearing a niqab (an item of clothing that covers the face often worn by some Muslim women as a part of a particular interpretation of hijab), and the second image shows her no longer "forced to wear black sheets" as she poses in a swimsuit.

Last year, during a family trip to Kuwait, Qunun fled her family and the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and attempted to seek asylum in Australia via Bangkok. However, per the BBC, her passport was seized by a Saudi diplomat after he met her coming off the flight at Suvarnabhumi airport - leaving her stranded.

Qunun was then ordered to fly back to Kuwait, where her family was waiting for her. Refusing to do so, Qunun attracted international attention and barricaded herself into her airport hotel room and tweeting for help. She revealed she had renounced Islam, which is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia.

Qunun told the BBC: "I shared my story and my pictures on social media and my father is so angry because I did this... I can't study and work in my country, so I want to be free and study and work as I want."

She also revealed she was afraid her family would kill her.

Related - Female soccer players rally around Muslim player after she loses her hijab:

After the UN's refugee agency granted her status as a legitimate refugee, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters: "Canada has been unequivocal that we will always stand up for human rights and women's rights around the world. When the UN made a request of us that we grant Ms al-Qunun asylum, we accepted."

Now, a little over one year on, she says she is celebrating her "freedom".

In a tweet last month - one year on from her ordeal -  Qunun wrote: "It's been a year since I became free. [Every time] I wake up, I feel like I’m being born again! There’s always hope even if you don’t see it. #newlife".

Qunun recently shared her 'before and after' pictures, along with the caption: "The biggest change in my life.. from being forced to wear black sheets and being controlled by men to being a free woman"

The post was met with both support and criticism from Twitter users.

Twitter user Mary responded to Qunun, saying: "We need more people like you in this world. Rahaf, what you did was incredibly brave. Be proud of what you have achieved. I would like to meet you I person one day."

However, some Twitter attacked Qunun for showing her skin, such as @Ioghbp20, who replied: "Im sorry. But to showed your beautiful skin to public , for me its not the right thing to do. Men will look at you with lust. Its not right. sic]"

Another wrote: "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 Muhammed {PBUH} said that women and men are equal., All what you are saying about us is a big lie stop lying".

And @who_adil replied to the images, saying: "I was checking her previous posts and got to know that she literally got all this fame just because she threw hijab away and started clothing like in the second picture. The world made her famous based on this."