In the beginning, Nourah wasn’t positive what she was once taking a look at when she gained a Snapchat video from her buddy, Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun.
The quick clip confirmed a couple of denims and a grimy tile flooring that panned on the very finish to what gave the impression to be an airport hall.
“The Saudi embassy stopped me in Thailand. My circle of relatives has reported me,” a quiet girl’s voice says.
Qunun, 18, from Saudi Arabia, advised Nourah she was once at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand and were stopped by means of officers who mentioned they’d be sending her again to Kuwait, the place her circle of relatives had traveled for a go back and forth.
At that second, Nourah learned Qunun had performed what she mentioned she would do someday: Flee from her kinfolk, who she mentioned abused, beat, and threatened her with dying. She mentioned she’d just lately renounced Islam and advised Reuters “my circle of relatives threatens to kill me for essentially the most trivial issues.”
Inside of 24 hours of seeing that Snapchat video, Qunun, Nourah and two different pals — maximum of whom have by no means met in individual however grew shut over a personal team chat about feminism at the messaging app Telegram — introduced and ran a Twitter account that reside tweeted one girl’s plight to hunt asylum. The posts captured the eye of the sector, particularly the federal government of Thailand and United Countries officers.
“I knew that she in a foul state of affairs,” Nourah mentioned of Qunun’s lifestyles in Saudi Arabia.
“She mentioned that she was once no longer satisfied as a result of she was once an ex-Muslim, and was once dealing with issues along with her circle of relatives,” Nourah, who sought after to stay her complete identify and hid, advised BuzzFeed Information in a telephone name from Australia.
Nourah — who mentioned she had escaped from Saudi Arabia 3 months in the past and carried out for asylum in Australia — mentioned that Qunun hadn’t detailed her break out plan previously.
Two hours later, Nourah has gained a decision on Snapchat from Qunun. “She known as me and advised me she was once in a resort room within the airport they usually booked her on a flight again [to Kuwait] into two days,” Nourah mentioned. “Then I think like I’ve to do one thing. We now have two days. We wish to make a distinction in her lifestyles.”
Nourah downloaded Qunun’s video and posted it to her infrequently used Twitter account. “Lend a hand her, I urge you! A Saudi woman caught in Thailand,” Nourah wrote.
Nourah additionally contacted two different Saudi ladies — one in Canada and one in Sweden — who had fled the rustic. “They’re out of doors Saudi Arabia, as a result of if I selected anyone in Saudi Arabia, they’re in peril for his or her lives,” Nourah mentioned.
Nourah, Rahaf and the opposite two ladies had by no means met in individual. Within the non-public Telegram team, Nourah mentioned, greater than 30 Saudi ladies, some nonetheless within the nation and a few in a foreign country, talked to one another about their present and previous lives within the nation.
“It was once a bunch for Saudi ladies, however feminist ladies,” Nourah mentioned. “They are speaking about their issues, what they are dealing with on a regular basis. It is like a secure area for them to speak.”
Now the 3 ladies — in 3 other time zones — had been decided to lend a hand Qunun and convey consideration to her state of affairs.
The very first thing, Nourah mentioned, was once to inform Qunun to start out tweeting.
Qunun laid out her state of affairs in a barrage of posts, together with a tweet of the Snapchat video Nourah posted hours previous. “I’m actual, provide and nonetheless respiring,” Qunun started her caption in her tweet, written in Arabic.
Her follower rely briefly rose into the tens of 1000’s in mere hours.
Then Qunun started tweeting different scenes: A stroll to an airport resort room, a video appearing a portion of her aircraft price ticket and every other, an indistinguishable video, possibly of a ceiling.
“She was once looking to ship informal movies with out her face however I advised her it’s no longer going to be the similar if folks don’t know your face. They may be able to’t establish you. We wish to make folks be mindful you by means of face, by means of identify,” Nourah — who proved to BuzzFeed Information she had get entry to to the account — mentioned she advised Qunun.
9 hours after her first tweet, Qunun wrote in English: “As a result of I were given not anything to lose I’m going now to percentage my actual identify and my all knowledge.”
Within the subsequent tweet was once a photograph of herself, with the caption: “My identify is Rahaf Mohammed Mutlaq Alqunun, and that is my image.”
Noura and her two pals then arranged tips on how to run the feed as Qunun navigated world rules, barricaded herself in her resort room, met with representatives from the United Countries’ refugee company and found out that her father, Mohammad al-Qunun, a senior executive reliable, was once reportedly in Bangkok. Qunun was once final noticed leaving the airport resort with UN and Thai government.
“We’re operating shifts. Each two hours certainly one of us fall asleep and two keep [awake] in combination and maintain the account,” Nourah mentioned of the final 48 hours.
“It is my flip to sleep for 2 hours, then the opposite woman will sleep as a result of we need to keep at the telephone if the rest occurs. She [Qunun] may name and she is going to ask for lend a hand, as a result of we do not know what will occur in Thailand,” Nourah mentioned.
Nourah logs into the account to retweet supportive messages and replace folks on Qunun’s standing. She mentioned Qunun conveys trends to her when Qunun can’t tweet herself, or wishes a spoil.
“I feel it is crucial to be round in subsequent 48 hours as a result of no person is aware of what will occur,” Nourah mentioned. She added that Qunun was once at an undisclosed location with United Countries representatives and was once insistent that her buddy was once no longer secure till she leaves Thailand and is granted asylum.
“I’m secure now,” Nourah says of her lifestyles in Australia, “and I am hoping Rahaf is secure, however I am hoping the sector can be mindful the Saudi ladies inside of Saudi Arabia.”
“I do know we stored Rahaf’s lifestyles nowadays however we will save hundreds of thousands in Saudi Arabia,” Nourah mentioned prior to looking to get some sleep till her subsequent shift.