Refugee footballer votes after getting Australian citizenship

Hakeem al-Araibi plays semi-professional football in Melbourne. He had been arrested during his honeymoon last year for alleged offences in Bahrain linked to the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings.

Hakeem al-Araibi (centre) was granted refugee status and residency in Australia in 2017 after fleeing Bahrain. Photo: AFP

A refugee footballer who was detained in Thailand and threatened with extradition to Bahrain said he “feels great” after voting in Australia's election on Saturday.

Hakeem al-Araibi, who became an Australian at a ceremony in Melbourne in March, shot to international fame when he was arrested during his honeymoon last year for alleged offences in Bahrain linked to the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings.

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Amid a worldwide outcry, Al-Araibi — who was granted refugee status and residency in Australia in 2017 after fleeing Bahrain — was eventually allowed to return to Melbourne, where he plays semi-professional football.

'Feels great'

Al-Araibi posted photos on Twitter and Instagram showing him at a polling station as he made a “V for victory” sign with his left hand, while wearing a black long-sleeved shirt, a backwards baseball bat and sunglasses. “Today I voted for the first time in my life, it feels great to be able to vote in Australia. I wish the best for Australia,” he wrote on Twitter.

More than 16 million Australians, a record number, have enrolled to vote in this election.

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