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Sebastian Kurz under pressure to secure release of Austrian woman in Dubai

Sebastian Kurz (OEVP) is facing his first big test as Austria's new Foreign Minister as the pressure builds to secure the release of an Austrian woman who was arrested in Dubai after reporting her rape to police in Dubai.

The 29-year-old Viennese was arrested by police for having illegal sex in December after she went to them to report that she had been raped in an underground car park by a man from Yemen. The police also told her she could escape the charges if she agreed to marry the man she says attacked her.

Over 100,000 people have now signed an online petition in support of her release and campaign activists have called on Kurz, the youngest ever Finance Minister, to make it happen.

"Sebastian Kurz must ensure that Dubai will return the young Austrian to her family and her friends," said Christopher Schott, Campaign Director of global campaigning organisation Avaaz.

Kurz has sent a high level crisis team to Dubai and has done "everything in his power to help the Austrian", according to the Foreign Ministry.

A similar case last year caused an outcry when a Norwegian woman was sentenced to 16 months in prison after reporting her own rape. She was eventually pardoned and was allowed to return to Norway.

However, co-founder of the initiative liberal Muslims Austria Amer Albayati has warned that securing the release of the Austrian woman may be particularly difficult as she is a Muslim and therefore it's expected that the "full force of local Islamic Sharia law" will be used.

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