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‘There was rapture’: Refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi touches down on Australian soil

Refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi has declared his love for Australia, after touching down in Melbourne.

Supporters and relatives of the 25-year-old have gathered at Melbourne Airport to welcome him home.

Al-Araibi spent more than two months in a Thai prison, after being arrested over vandalism offences in his native Bahrain, which he denies.

He was released yesterday after Bahrain requested the case be dropped.

Supporters wearing t-shirts with #SaveHakeem joined in song in his honour.

Al-Araibi has thanked those who have supported him as he left the terminal.

Chair of Hakeem’s football team Lou Tona tells Ben Fordham “it’s a great day to be an Australian”.

“Our government did their job, our community did the job, our sporting community did the job… everyone’s done their job.”

Mr Tona says it was “overwhelming” to see Al-Araibi walk through the arrivals gate.

“His eyes lit up, there was rapture, an unbelievable amount of applause.”

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