January 24, 2019
Peter Khalil, the Federal Member for Wills, has joined with players from the Pascoe Vale Football Club to call on Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, to pick up the phone to his Thai counterpart to advocate for refugee and Pascoe Vale player, Hakeem Al Arabi, to be returned to Australia.
Hakeem Al Arabi was detained by Thai police as he arrived in Thailand for his honeymoon after an Interpol Red Notice from Bahrain and a tip-off from Australian Federal Police officers that he was en route. Bahraini authorities are seeking his extradition from Bangkok.
Mr Al Araibi said he has been targeted because he criticised Bahraini royal Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al-Kalhifa, the current president of the Asian Football Confederation, who is accused of overseeing a committee that identified athletes involved in the 2011 Arab Spring, who were later tortured.
In a video published on social media, Mr Khalil said “[Hakeem] stood up for human rights and democracy and for that, he paid a price. He was tortured, he fled to Australia, he sought asylum and was given refugee status by Australia.”
“He’s weeks away from [being granted Australian] citizenship”
“I’m imploring Prime Minister Scott Morrison, please pick up the phone. Make the call to the Thai Prime Minister and, as the leader of a sporting nation, seek to have Hakeem returned to Australia where he belongs.”
Members of the Pascoe Vale FC seniors team stood with Mr Khalil and echoed his petition to the Prime Minister to “make the call” for Hakeem.
Video of the statement is available here.