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World

AFP
May 18, 2019

Refugee footballer votes after getting Australian citizenship

World

AFP
Sat, May 18, 2019

MELBOURNE: A refugee footballer who was detained in Thailand and threatened with extradition to Bahrain said he "feels great" after voting in Australia´s election 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.

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.

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.