Abu Dhabi: The US Police has tendered an apology for mistreating an Emirati businessman who was mistaken as a Daesh sympathiser.
Avon’s Chief of Police Richard Bosley apologised to Emirati businessman Ahmad Al Menhali, who was mistakenly detained by armed police in front of a hotel entrance on Thursday
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.”
Al Menhali, 41, told Gulf News over the phone from the US that he has accepted the apology from the police.
He thanked officials of the UAE Embassy in Washington for their prompt response and kind support extended to him during the ordeal.
WAM reported on Sunday night that the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has summoned Ethan Goldrich, Deputy US Ambassador to the UAE, demanding clarifications about the treatment of Al Menhali.
Rawdha Al Otaiba, Director of the Department of US Affairs at the ministry, expressed the UAE’s dissatisfaction with the way the police dealt with the Emirati.
Al Otaiba voiced the UAE's disapproval of the arbitrary treament and searching of Al Menhali, and the posting of a video clip showing him being handcuffed. She described the incident as a libel against the Emirati man.
She reiterated that the UAE gives special attention to the safety of its citizens abroad and therefore it asks for explanations about this incident.
Goldrich apologised for the incident and said that the US Embassy will contact relevant authorities in Ohio to clarify the circumstances of the issue.
He stressed that the US respects people's right to wear their national costume and that the incident was an exception be rejected.
Goldrich promised to respond to the ministry as fast as possible.
In US since April
Al Menhali had been staying in the US since April for medical treatment at a heart clinic. He wears the dishdasha and ghutra, the national dress of the UAE, and was staying in a hotel apartment in the area of hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio.
He was surprised when armed police arrived and ordered him to lie down for inspection when he was speaking on his mobile telephone.
“I thought the policemen were present at the hotel for routine exercises or for another issue and never imagined for a moment that they had come to arrest me. So I tried to give them way, but they targeted me.”
He said he obeyed the police orders and lied down on the ground to be searched, still astonished. The police violently pushed him on his back, causing injuries and bleeding on several parts of his body. They began to search him immediately and threw his phones.
“They did not tell me why I was searched,” Al Menhali said.
After making sure he did not have any dangerous tool or weapon, the police freed him. But Al Menhali fainted and did not wake up on the spot.
“I woke up at Cleveland hospital and realised that I had sustained several injuries.”
Al Menhali said he went to Fairfield Inn and Suites in Cleveland, Ohio, looking for a room to stay there for the entire month while he was in the United States. The receptionist told him that there were no rooms available for a month but the hotel offered discounts to him for only three days, especially since he told them he was receiving treatment at the nearby Cleveland hospital.
“I asked them about other hotels in the area, and they actually helped me get some information about a number of nearby hotels and printed material about these hotels and their locations.”
The unfortunate incident unfolded afterwards.
Meanwhile, the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged Emiratis to avoid wearing the national dress while travelling abroad, especially in the West. The UAE Embassies in Western counties have advised Emiratis not discuss any sensitive topics like religion and politics with other people abroad, even if encouraged or provoked by others to do so. In the US, while leaving from one state to another state, Emiratis must report to the UAE Embassy and register their new phone numbers.
On Saturday the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs requested all citizens, male and female, especially veiled women who are travelling abroad during the summer vacation, to observe the law in some countries where the “veil” (Neqab) is banned, especially in some European cities. It warned that otherwise they may attract fines or other legal action.
The ministry said in a new statement: “Some European countries have banned wearing the veil in public institutions and places. For instance, France, Belgium and the Netherlands as well as some Swiss cities and the Spanish city of Barcelona have banned wearing of the veil or anything that covers the face in 2010.”
The Danish courts, a German state, Hesse, and a number of Italian cities have also issued similar bans.
Ahmad Al Daheri, the Assistant Undersecretary for Consular Affairs at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, urged all Emiratis travelling abroad to be careful about their surroundings and circumstances because of security alerts issued in some countries, especially in Europe. The security alerts have been issued in response to some incidents in the Middle East as well.
— With inputs from Mary Achkhanian, Staff Reporter