Saudi’s prevent Canadian woman from leaving country without father’s permission

From The CBC

Government wants to help woman leave Saudi Arabia

Last Updated: Thursday, March 18, 2010 | 5:04 PM ET

Conservative and Liberal MP’s told CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning Thursday that the federal government must continue putting pressure on the Saudi Arabian government to allow an Ottawa woman there to return to Canada.

Nazia Quazi, who graduated from the University of Ottawa and holds dual Indian-Canadian citizenship, alleges she has been unable to leave Saudi Arabia for two years because her father refuses to grant her permission.

Saudi law prohibits an unmarried woman from leaving the country unless she obtains her male guardian’s consent.

“We have to keep talking to both the Saudi government and to the father involved about why this just can’t continue in this way,” said Bob Rae, the Liberal foreign affairs critic Thursday.

Quazi, now 24, entered Saudi Arabia in 2007 on a visitor’s visa to see her family. She claims her father, an Indian national working in Saudi Arabia, sponsored her for a permanent visa without her knowledge, and took away her Canadian and Indian passports. She alleges that he has refused to let her leave because her family didn’t approve of her boyfriend.

“I get the feeling that [Canadian government officials] do get irritated by me always calling or emailing them and things like that,” she said. “My concern is my time is running [out]. And people don’t understand that. And nobody seems to care at this point. They’re just saying that we have to wait.”

Deepak Obhrai, parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs, said the federal government has been working diligently behind the scenes on her case and has appealed to the Saudi Human Rights Commission.

However, the Canadian government cannot interfere with another country’s laws, he said.

“Whenever Canadians go overseas they have to comply with the local laws,” Obhrai said on the show Thursday. “Ultimately [the situation] will be only resolved when it meets the Saudi requirements of the father giving the permission to leave.”

Both Rae and Obhrai agreed that Quazi’s case is unique because she’s not a Saudi Arabian citizen.

“This woman is a Canadian citizen,” Rae said. “There should be an exception in this case where [the Saudi government] could allow her to go and no one’s offending whatever structures [it] may have.”

While Obhrai said government officials were working different “diplomatic channels,” the Canadian government’s main option is to continue appealing to the Saudi government to convince Quazi’s father to give his consent.

Rae said the focus should be applying pressure on the Saudi government to gain permission or to give Quazi an exception.

“I would want to say, on behalf of all Canadians, that our government couldn’t possibly feel she’s an irritant — she has a serious problem. This is a very difficult issue. I think the government is working very hard behind the scenes.”

In March 2009, NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Paul Dewar also called for the government to engage Saudi authorities on the matter and seek an exception for Quazi.

One Reply to “Saudi’s prevent Canadian woman from leaving country without father’s permission”

  1. More assinine dhimmitude from the west.

    She is a free agent here in the west, not some chattel owned by her father.

    If she is of majority age (and even if she isn’t), then she should be free to go wherever she pleases.

    The Canadian officials are asinine twits who deserve no less than sacking for aiding and abetting a dictatorship acting against one of their own citizens.

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