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Rights group raises alarm over Qatari woman activist

Published on October 15, 2021

Human Rights Watch raised concerns Friday over a Qatari women’s rights activist who claimed her family tried to harm her after she returned from a bid for asylum in Britain.

Noof al-Maadeed, a prominent critic of the treatment of women in her conservative homeland, flew back to Qatar in September and claimed threats to her safety in a series of tweets.

“She’s at imminent risk of abuse,” HRW’s senior women’s rights researcher, Rothna Begum, told AFP.

Maadeed’s social media accounts have been silent for two days and she is not answering phone calls.

The Qatari government declined to comment on the case. But a source briefed on the situation said Qatari authorities were providing assistance to Maadeed, who was being cared for at a safe, undisclosed location.

Amal Al Malki, a dean and professor at Doha’s Hamad bin Khalifa University, said a “reliable source” told her Maadeed was “in safe hands”.

“They assured me that Noof is being looked after and decided to take personal time to get all the support she needs,” Malki posted on Instagram.

Maadeed, who is in her early 20s, has used her well-followed social media accounts to denounce Qatar’s guardianship laws, which require adult women to obtain male approval for everyday activities.

A TikTok video describing how to claim asylum in Britain gained hundreds of thousands of views. Maadeed said she returned to Qatar “for reasons linked to my family”, without giving further details.

Britain’s interior ministry told AFP that Maadeed “voluntarily returned to Qatar” in September.

al-burs/th/kir