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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

#WheresNoof? Qataris search for answers into fate of missing ‘abuse victim’

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Qatari authorities have yet to comment on the matter while a source said that the 22-year-old is safe.

Social media users across Qatar and beyond have taken to Twitter to raise concerns over the sudden disappearance of Noof Al Maadeed, a 22-year-old Qatari woman who fled the country following years of alleged domestic abuse.

Al Maadeed announced her return to Qatar from the UK on 30 September—where she sought asylum in 2019.

Her return to her home country, where she complained of abuse from her family, had been hailed as a “brave move” by many. 

The young Qatari had been documenting her case on social media, and in one post, said she decided to return home due to her full confidence in authorities to protect her from any threats. 

On 13 October, Al Maadeed published a tweet saying she was not safe before shortly sending another that said she was “a bit more okay”. 

Shortly after, she disappeared from social media and has yet to publish any updates. 

While Al Madeed previously tweeted that “she does not need to send hourly updates, her  silence online has since raised concerns, with many rallying to find answers.

According to Qatari feminist and scholar Dr. Amal Al Malki, a “reliable source” informed her that Al Maadeed is currently in safe hands.

“They [the reliable source] assured me that Noof is being looked after and decides to take personal time to get all the support she needs. She is fine and in safe hands thankfully,” said Dr. Al Malki.

The leading academic also urged Qatari authorities to ensure she remains safe and provide her with all the support she needs.

“The way this case is dealt with by the authorities will serve as an example of how to deal with such cases in the future!” she added.

Asylum in the UK

Speaking to Human Rights Watch [HRW] earlier this year, Al Maadeed said she had suffered abuse by her family and that her freedom of movement was restricted. Al Maadeed said she was only allowed to leave the house for school.

She told HRW that she tapped into the government’s Metrash app in 2019 through her father’s mobile phone to process her exit permit.

She then climbed out of her bedroom window before flying out to Ukraine and then onto the UK.

Ahead of her return this month, Al Maadeed assured more than 12,000 Twitter followers that the issues she had faced back home had been “resolved” and that she would not flee the country again.

Read also: HRW women in Qatar report: Between laws and patriarchy

“This would literally not be possible without my family’s support,” tweeted Al-Maadeed on 29 September, the same day she announced the withdrawal of her asylum application.

Then on 11 October, after leaving quarantine in Doha, Al Maadeed said she was not “100% okay” as the people coordinating her safe return were unaware of the dangers she could face from her alleged abusive family.

At another hotel facility, the young woman said she was visited by individuals who were not supposed to be anywhere near her, prompting her to seek refuge at a local police station.

Al Maadeed then claimed she met representatives from the Ministry of Interior [MOI] and insisted on going to the Amiri Diwan to meet Qatar’s Minister of Interior and Prime Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Than who she had hoped would resolve her case. 

On the same day, the 22-year-old said she remained at the police station as she felt safer there than at the hotel, where she was subjected to “murder attempts”.

Her father is thought to be among those who visited her at the hotel despite Al Maadeed warning authorities about the threats he posed over her wellbeing.

The fate of the young Qatari remains unknown and authorities have yet to comment on the matter.


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