Crocodile tears? Police apologize for mistaking dishdasha-clad Emirati for extremist

Published July 4th, 2016 - 04:00 GMT
Beware of flaunting your traditional in the West! (Courtesy photo)
Beware of flaunting your traditional in the West! (Courtesy photo)

Avon's Chief of Police Richard Bosley has apologised to Emirati businessman Ahmad Al Menhali, who was detained by armed police in front of a hotel entrance after he was mistaken for a Daesh member.

In a face-to-face meeting captured on video, the chief, along with Brian Jensen, the Mayor of Avon, apologised directly to Al Menhali.

"No one from the police department [meant] to disrespect you, that was the not the intent of the actions of our officers. It's a very regrettable circumstance that occurred for you. You should not have been put in that situation like you were," said Bosley in a 29-second video posted on Twitter.

Mayor Jensen said: "There were some false accusations made against you and those are regrettable, and I hope somewhere within your heart that the person that made those can maybe learn from those...and maybe in terms of another meeting we can get together."The incident happened on June 29 around 6pm when a female clerk working at the Fairfield Inn and Suites called 911 alleging that a hotel patron pledged allegiance to Daesh.

A report in the UK's The Independent newspaper reported that the businessman identified as Ahmad Al Menhali 41, is from Abu Dhabi and is in the US for medical reasons.

The drama, as it happened was captured by a police bodycam and was aired by News Channel 5. The incident was also reported by several American media outlets.

The video showed that the police officers carrying assault rifles approached the hotel entrance where a man dressed in Kandoura and Arab headdress was talking on phone in Arabic.

Panicked police officers yelled at the Emirati man to get on to the ground. The man who was visibly traumatised was later taken down by the officers and handcuffed.

Avon police chief sorry after Emirati is mistaken for a Daesh member and detained by armed police

In a face-to-face meeting captured on video, the chief, along with Brian Jensen, the Mayor of Avon, apologised directly to Al Menhali.

"No one from the police department [meant] to disrespect you, that was the not the intent of the actions of our officers. It's a very regrettable circumstance that occurred for you. You should not have been put in that situation like you were," said Bosley in a 29-second video posted on Twitter.

Mayor Jensen said: "There were some false accusations made against you and those are regrettable, and I hope somewhere within your heart that the person that made those can maybe learn from those...and maybe in terms of another meeting we can get together."The incident happened on June 29 around 6pm when a female clerk working at the Fairfield Inn and Suites called 911 alleging that a hotel patron pledged allegiance to Daesh.

A report in the UK's The Independent newspaper reported that the businessman identified as Ahmad Al Menhali 41, is from Abu Dhabi and is in the US for medical reasons.

Apparently, a hotel clerk was alarmed by the Al Menhali's Kandoura dress and language. She then made a call to her family and her sister then alerted the police. Moments later, her father also called the police.

The video then shows that Ali was that taken to a police vehicle and frisked from head to toe. A police officer checked his pockets and took out his wallet, cell phone and some papers. A passport, a Nol card, an Emirates ID card, UAE currency and an Etisalat calling card were also taken from his possession.

Later, when it was established that it was a false alarm, the police removed the handcuffs and tried to explain the situation to Al Menhali.

However, moments later Al Menhali collapsed to the ground and was taken to the nearest hospital. The Emirati businessman is receiving treatment at Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio.

Meanwhile, the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Gulf News on Saturday that they were following up the case with the UAE Embassy in Washington.

The ministry advised Emiratis to refrain from wearing the national dress when travelling abroad and specifically in public spaces to ensure their safety.

According to the report in The Independent, Al Menhali, who is married with three children, suffered a stroke.

Meanwhile, a representative of Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) said it has been in touch with Al Menhali.

The organisation said it would sue the police, if no proper action was taken by the US government.

Julia Shearson, the executive director of the CAIR in Cleveland, was quoted by The Independent as saying: "The fact that the police referred to his clothing in their report as a criminal indicator is very concerning."

"Police need more diversity training. This is shocking to have happened in Avon, one of the most affluent and suburban neighbourhoods outside of Cleveland."

Incidents like this have increased in the past few months. Recently, a fasting woman wearing hijab was taken down by Chicago police and strip searched.

By Shafaat Shahbandari & Mary Achkhanian

With inputs from Abdulla Rasheed, Abu Dhabi Editor


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