Canadian Mother Nathalie Morin Detained in Saudi Arabia

For five years, Nathalie Morin has been a prisoner in her own home. Morin, a Canadian citizen, lives with her common-law husband, Saeed Al Shahrani, and their three children in Saudi Arabia. The last time she was able to leave the country and visit Canada was in 2006. Since then, the 26 year old and her children have been held captive by Shahrani. This week Morin was apprehended by the police for leaving her home with the children without her husband’s permission and she will now have to face the Saudi courts.

The website Soutien a Nathalie Morin, a website in support of Morin and her three children Samir, Abdullah and Sarah, describes the horrible situation she is in:

Nathalie Morin was born in 1984 in Quebec. She is a Canadian citizen who is being held against her will in Saudi Arabia by her common law husband, Saeed Al Sharahni, since March 2005. She is physically and psychologically mistreated, she is lacking in nutrition, and lives under lock and key in an apartment for which only Saeed Al Sharahni has the key. Her 3 young children, Samir, Abdullah and Sarah endure the same treatment.

The website Soutien a Nathalie Morin has further details on the timelines and the abuse, including pictures of the injuried endured by Morin and her children at the hands of Sharahni.

Morin would like to return to Canada with her children. According to the Soutien a Nathalie Morin website, in 2008, Sharahni asked for a ransom, first of $20,000 and then of $100,000, to free Morin. However, he later recanted and said that he was just joking and didn’t want any money. Since then, Morin’s mother and other supporters have been working to have Morin freed and returned home.

This week, Morin’s already bad situation worsened. The Toronto Star explains that “under Saudi law, she is not allowed to leave home with her children without her husband’s permission.” Last week, while Shahrani was away, she contacted a Saudi journalist and asked her to take her shopping because the family was running low on water and food. As she left her apartment with the children, she was apprehended by the police (who were waiting there with Shahrani, who had apparently bugged the apartment and learned of her shopping plans that way).  Morin will now face a court hearing under the accusation of kidnapping her three children.

According to the Toronto Star, Shahrani disputes Morin’s claims:

“How can my wife be the victim of any torture or detention when she is currently learning Arabic at a specialized society and speaks with her mother on the phone daily?” he told the Saudi daily Al-Watan last month.

“Whether or not I allow my children to leave Saudi Arabia is a matter which concerns both myself and my wife only,” he said. “Besides, I am entitled to keep my children in my custody according to Shariah, and I have not prevented my wife from staying with them.”

Morin has long had the support of the Quebec and Canadian governments and Amnesty International. However, in the face of her arrest this week, the requests for the Canadian government to intervene have heightened. CTV reported that the Quebec National Assembly is filing a motion asking the federal government to intensify its efforts to secure her release. The Toronto Star says that Morin is frustrated and terrified of having to face the courts in Saudi Arabia.

Related stories:

Saudi Arabia Bans All Protests

Women’s Rights Protest in Front of Saudi Arabian Embassy

Photo credit: Soutien a Nathalie Morin

130 comments

Glen Venezio
Glen Venezio4 years ago

her whole story on her blog and elsewhere is a confused mess, I am very sorry for what she is going through.......................but I still would ask, why the hell she went to live there to begin with? ERROR!

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Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran5 years ago

Thanks.

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Joy Jin
Joy Jin6 years ago

I hope she gets home safely. The Canadian government should protect her.

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Patrisius Dua
Patrisius Dua6 years ago

It is difficult to understand the case of Natahalie Morin. Truly an Arab man should love his wife and children. Marriages that occurred between them on the basis of love is not it? Why does her husband work with the police to lock his wife and children? Does this only apply to women from outside the Arab? Is this indeed is the state regulation? No. women had to shout loudly voiced this injustice. The Canadian government must fight to defend Nathalie Morin.

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Patrisius Dua
Patrisius Dua6 years ago

It is difficult to understand the case of Natahalie Morin. Truly an Arab man should love his wife and children. Marriages that occurred between them on the basis of love is not it? Why does her husband work with the police to lock his wife and children? Does this only apply to women from outside the Arab? Is this indeed is the state regulation? No. women had to shout loudly voiced this injustice. The Canadian government must fight to defend Nathalie Morin.

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Maarja L.
Maarja L6 years ago

Wise words, Shirley M.

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KrassiAWAY B.
Krasimira B6 years ago

Agree with Neil G.

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Shirley M.
Shirley Marsh6 years ago

I do wish people would stop using their religion as the pretext for committing unlawful acts. As Ghandi so wisely said; 'I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians; they are so unlike their Christ.' I think the same could be said for Islam.

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Judith Corrigan
Judith Corrigan6 years ago

Not only should Canada get involved,all those people in Saudi Arabia who are offended by the husbands treatment of his family should object.

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Ernie Miller
william Miller6 years ago

I do not know if this is a coltural issue or just the hatred of a bad husband. We have them here in the USA also men that beat their wives and keep them home thru intimidation. the fact that she is living in a forign country only makes it harder for her. Let us know if there is some way to help. but her situation is not all that much differant than women all over the world that have gotten involved with the wrong man.

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