UAE tells citizens to avoid robes while abroad after man held in US as Islamic State suspect
The United Arab Emirates has urged men to avoid wearing the white robes, headscarf and headband of the national dress when travelling abroad, after a businessman visiting the United States was wrestled to the ground and held as an Islamic State suspect.
UAE media reported that the Emirati man was detained in Avon, Ohio, last week after a clerk at a local hotel called 911 to report what she had described as a man affiliated to Islamic State, according to the Arabic-language al-Bayan newspaper.
The English language The National said the receptionist at the Fairfield Inn hotel called the police after she heard the man talking on his phone in the hotel lobby.
Gulf News, another UAE newspaper, published photos of the Emirati man in white robes being wrestled to the ground and handcuffed before being led away by police.
In a message on a Foreign Ministry Twitter account aimed at citizens travelling abroad, the ministry said on Saturday:
“For citizens travelling outside the country, and in order to ensure their safety, we point out not to wear formal dress while travelling, especially in public places,” the message dated July 2 stated, without referring to the Avon incident.
The foreign ministry said in a statement it had summoned US. deputy ambassador Ethan Goldrich to protest the “abusive treatment by the Ohio police of a UAE citizen” and to deplore the filming of his arrest which it described as defamation.
“The UAE cares for the safety of its citizens and demands clarifications about the incident,” it said in a statement carried by WAM state news agency.
Goldrich “apologised” for the incident, pledging to seek clarifications from authorities in the state of Ohio, WAM said.
— City of Avon, OH (@CityofAvonOH) July 3, 2016
Local newspapers said Avon police released the man after they realised their mistake, but he fainted and needed hospital treatment. The 41-year-old, identified as Ahmed al-Menhali, was visiting the United States for medical treatment, The National said.
Al-Bayan reported that the man had hired a lawyer to pursue the case, saying he had received no apology from either the police or the hotel.