The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is warning travelers to steer clear of wearing traditional Muslim clothing while visiting the west.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the UAE told its followers on Twitter that people from the UAE shouldn’t wear the clothing associated with Muslims for their own safety when visiting the west, especially since an Emirati tourist was arrested in Ohio, according to the Associated Press.
The man, Ahmed al-Menhali, was held at gunpoint after a hotel clerk alerted relatives, who in turn alerted police, alleging that the man was on the phone pledging his loyalty to the Islamic State.
As it turns out, the 41-year-old businessman was in the U.S. for medical treatment and was trying to get a room in Avon, Ohio, according to the Washington Post.
The traveler from the UAE was wearing garments most commonly associated with Muslims at the time: a long white headscarf and a traditional white robe.
As the UAE native was speaking on his phone in Arabic, the police ambushed him.
Menhali was pushed to the ground and handcuffed, while another officer pointed his loaded gun at the man. After he was allowed to get back up, he collapsed and didn’t feel well, so emergency workers took him to a hospital. Menhali once suffered a stroke before the incident with the officers in Ohio.
Menhali was not armed during his unfortunate encounter with the police, and he was not doing anything wrong when he was attacked.
“They were brutal with me,” Menhali said. “They pressed forcefully on my back. I had several injuries and bled from the forceful nature of their arrest.”
After speaking with the clerk of the Fairfield Inn and Suites in Avon, authorities were able to determine that the UAE native did not pledge allegiance to the Islamic State.
The incident was captured on a police camera and was played by the media. Later, Avon officials apologized for the embarrassing incident, saying it was “very regrettable.”
Menhali suffered a panic attack because of the incident, reported The National.
“I always wear my traditional clothes during all my travels and never encountered such a thing.”
“The fact that the police referred to his clothing in their report as a criminal indicator is very concerning,” Julia Shearson, the executive director of the CAIR in Cleveland, said. “Police need more diversity training. This is shocking to have happened in Avon, one of the most affluent and suburban neighborhoods outside of Cleveland.”
Although the recent attacks in the U.S. were carried out by people who did not wear traditional Muslim clothing and were not from the UAE, the fear of an attack carried out by extremists dressed in Muslim clothing is alive and well in the minds of some Americans.
A quick search on YouTube can show a skeptic how a prank can show these fears. There are several videos showing someone dressed up in traditional Muslim clothes, or something similar to what might be worn in the UAE, chanting something in a foreign-sounding language and throwing a backpack at an unsuspecting bystander. The terror is evident when the victim of the prank runs as fast as he or she can to get away, likely thinking there is a bomb in the bag.
The concern is not limited to UAE citizens traveling abroad to the U.S. Another statement from the UAE encouraged women to follow the bans on face veils in relevant parts of Europe.
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