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Qatar: Missing activist Noof al-Maadeed feared detained or murdered

Qatari official denies any harm has come to activist who returned to Doha after seeking asylum from her family in UK
During her time in the UK, Maadeed used her social media platforms to give advice on asylum requests and immigration (YouTube)

Human rights groups fear that Noof al-Maadeed, a Qatari activist who disappeared mid-October after returning to the Gulf state after two years of living in the UK, is either dead or has been detained.

The 21-year-old had sought asylum in Britain to escape alleged abuse from her family, who she said had restricted her movements and beat her. 

Qatari woman who sought asylum in UK feared missing in home country
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Khalid Ibrahim, head of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), told Middle East Eye that multiple sources had confirmed to him that Maadeed had been murdered upon her return to Qatar.

However, a Qatari official told the Guardian newspaper that Maadeed was in good health but was unable to speak publicly due to a request for privacy.

Ibrahim has been calling on the Qatari government to provide proof of Maadeed’s safety and well-being.  

Maadeed recorded her journey to the UK in a widely shared TikTok video.

During her time there, she used her social media platforms to give advice on asylum requests and immigration.

However, she withdrew her asylum application following assurances from the Qatari government about her safety. 

'Free to live her life'

Since returning to Qatar on 1 October, Maadeed had been keeping her Twitter followers updated on her status, saying that if they did not hear from her, she might have been returned to her family, who she said had threatened her when she arrived in Doha.

Maadeed tweeted that she had reported the threats to the police and that if she stopped posting on social media she should be considered dead. Her daily updates went silent on 13 October.

Ibrahim told MEE that Maadeed's online disappearance suggested that she had either been murdered or kidnapped.  

“We do not know what her current whereabouts are, if she’s safe, and if she’s able to communicate with the outside world,” Rothna Begum, senior women's rights researcher at Human Rights Watch (HRW), told MEE at the time of Maadeed's disappearance. 

HRW has previously presented the Qatari government with evidence of relatives abusing women in their families.

But, according to Begum, instead of helping the women live on their own, the authorities tried to reconcile them with their families and forced them to return home. 

After Maadeed’s disappearance in October, Begum called on the Qatari authorities to ensure that she “is safe from any form of violence, that she is free to live her life as she wishes - and that she is able to access the outside world”. 

The hashtag #WhereisNoof has been trending on Twitter, with Lina al-Hathloul, the Saudi activist and sister of Loujain al-Hathloul, among those demanding to know her whereabouts.

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