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Charges possible for clerk after police detain Emirati man

The clerk’s sister told police he was “pledging his allegiance or something to Daesh.”

A prosecutor is reviewing whether to pursue charges against an Ohio hotel clerk who raised suspicions that an Emirati businessman dressed in traditional clothing could have links to terrorism.

Businessman Ahmed Al Menhali was detained by police at gunpoint last week at an Avon hotel before police determined he wasn’t a threat. Police responded to 911 calls from the clerk’s family expressing fears that Al Menhali could have ties to Daesh.

The clerk’s sister told police he was “pledging his allegiance or something to Daesh.”

Al Menhali’s treatment became front-page news in the United Arab Emirates, which has since warned its citizens to avoid wearing traditional garments abroad.

Avon city officials say the investigation was turned over to the prosecutor’s office to decide whether to pursue charges.

Speaking with Khaleej Times, Ahmed Al Menhali, businessman and a father of three, told Khaleej Times he will not settle for less than $200 million compensation over physical, psychological and financial damages “the attack” has resulted in.

“I could see the hate in their eyes. Their intention was to kill me,” said Al Menhali, who was in Ohio’s Cleveland for business and medical check-ups following health complications including a previous stroke.

He added that the incident disrupted a $70million business deal he has been working on for a year with a pharmaceutical company in San Diego and discussions on latest findings in the health industry.

He called the incident an attempt to disrupt businesses that can bring income to GCC countries.

“The UAE gets most of its profits from the pharmaceutical industry or the oil field. People involved did not want Arab countries to develop in the medical field.”

Al Menhali, who wore the kandoora (national dress), was detained after a clerk at Fairfield Inn and Suites in Avon called the police and claimed he pledged allegiance to Daesh. He fainted as police released him and was taken by the ambulance to St John Medical Centre.

He said that the police and officials’ apology was carried out without full investigation with the hotel or the clerk herself. He said it was “merely a cover” on the hate incident that targeted him.

“I am happy an apology came through. It means that there’s a step forward, but that does not mean their apology is accepted nor that I will give up on my right,” Al Menhali said.


“People’s life is not a game in an armed officer’s hands.”

The 41-year-old businessman stressed that the hotel clerk knew the reason behind his visit and had the intention of disrupting his business.

While there are a few UAE residents who say it’s better to be safe and avoid wearing traditional attires, there are a handful of people who believe that Arab traditional clothes represent their culture and identity and to let go of them will be like discarding their culture.

“I don’t blame the US police. They did what they thought was right to defend themselves. In response, we should do what’s right to defend ourselves. An outfit is an individual choice. When Indians, Pakistanis and people all over the world are not stopped from wearing their traditional attires, why should we stop? We have every right to practise our freedom of religion,” said Mahmood AlAwadi (left), Senior Manager for the Gulf Region at Elaph.

Mahmood, who is an Emirati national, added that the Arab media should spread awareness about the traditional attire and defend the robe whenever such racist crimes happen. “The other day, there was a video doing the rounds on the internet where a man wearing Arab outfit was throwing his bag at people at a bus stop. The video portrayed him and the religion as a whole in bad light. What would happen if Indian clothes are being advertised along with terrorism across the world? Their country’s media will chip in. We as Arabs, should also defend our clothes.”

Neeshma Nazar (Above), an Indian expat living in Dubai, added that the US must control its gun laws instead of unreasonably cracking down on Muslims. “US residents have very easy access to guns. Instead of targeting Muslims wearing hijabs and kanduras, or those who speak Arabic, they should act on their lax gun laws, even more so, in the wake of recent mass shootings across the country that have triggered outrage.”

UAE resident from Saudi Arabia, Allaa Ahmed Al Aulaqi (left), feels it’s an individual choice but for her, safety comes first. “When it comes to travelling, it’s perhaps a better idea to avoid traditional attire in light of the recent spate of hate crimes. Some people are ignorant and illiterate and they don’t know what Islam is about. They could put us in a dangerous situation. That said it’s a personal choice and a very sensitive topic, and it’s best to exercise individual discretion.”

However Lathifa Mohmed, a Sudanese national residing in the UAE, begs to differ. “Why should we give up on our attire and culture because of the ignorance of the West? They should be more enlightened about Islam and they should understand what it means to wear a hijab or kandura.”

Several Emiratis took to Twitter to complain of Menhali’s treatment, using the Arabic hashtag #AttackingAnEmiratiGuyInUS.

“If you want to learn about tolerance and freedom, learn from Emiratis,” said a Twitter user.

“I hate how white people are treated so good here in the UAE but Emiratis are abused in the US,” said one user.

Another Twitter user pointed out the US intolerance towards Arab clothing “These Americans come to UAE. wear bikinis as they wish but when we put our traditional dress, they act so ignorant,” he tweeted.

Another user called the incident a “violation by the police.”



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