Vote 1: Habib // 20 Photos

On February 2, 2007, former Guantanamo Bay prison detainee Mamdouh Habib announced his intention to run as a candidate for the seat of Auburn in the 2007 New South Wales state elections.

Auburn and the surrounding suburbs of western Sydney have a strong muslim population, driven by immigration to Australia from the Middle East, North Africa and South-East Asia. Habib, Egyptian by birth, would run an independent campaign on a platform opposing Australia's involvement in the US-led occupation of Iraq, to the abolition of "draconian" state and federal anti-terror laws and for the respect of human rights in Australia.

A controversial character in Australia, Habib was hauled off a bus and detained by police in Pakistan in October 2001, shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States. Shifted between Pakistan, Egypt, Afghanistan and finally the infamous U.S. Military prison in Guantanamo Bay as part of the US Government's 'extraordinary rendition' program, Habib was finally released without charge in January 2005 and returned to Australia. Since his return, Habib has been involved in a multitude of court cases and public campaigns opposing anti-terror policies of Australia's state and federal governments, Australia's close involvement with US-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and for the release of David Hicks, another Australian imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay on terrorism-related charges.

Habib's campaign for the seat of Auburn was driven by himself, his wife and two other volunteers. The group spent six weeks handing out flyers on the streets and speaking with communities across the Auburn electorate. At the close of polls on March 25, 2007, Habib's campaign had received 1554 votes from a total count of 40,331 formal votes, or 4% of the vote.