Photos: Hakeem Al-Araibi Meets Australian Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Number of MPs
2019-02-15 - 7:38 am
Bahrain Mirror: The Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told refugee footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi his Australian citizenship isn't "too far away".
The 25-year-old met with the Prime Minister in Canberra on Thursday, which coincided with the anniversary of February 14 uprising upon which Hakeem was arrested and tortured in 2012.
Al-Araibi returned to Australia after spending more than 70 days in a Thai prison.
"It's wonderful to have you here, I know it's been a trying time for you," Morrison said.
"We are so pleased you are here now and that you can come and live your life here in Australia."
The Prime Minister said he hoped to see Al-Araibi at a citizenship ceremony soon, adding: "I don't think it's too far away".
Foreign Minister Marise Payne confirmed the footballer's citizenship application was "well underway".
Al-Araibi thanked the two, as well as former Socceroo Craig Foster, who helped lead the campaign to free him.
Morrison gifted Al-Araibi a soccer ball, which he signed "welcome home Hakeem", and asked the footballer to sign one for him.
Earlier in the day, Al-Araibi watched a friendly football match between politicians and professional players, including Foster and former Matildas captain Kate Gill on grounds next to Parliament House.
The soccer match had been planned as a demonstration of support for Al-Araibi when he faced indefinite detention.
"He's been through an incredible ordeal and I think that's exacerbated by the fact that he was a torture survivor previously," Foster added.
Al-Araibi met a host of MPs including Sports Minister Bridget McKenzie, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Labor's foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong.