Man Arrested for Wearing Traditional Muslim Clothing; United Arab Emirates Issues Travel Warning
A hmed al-Menhali is a citizen of the United Arab Emirates who was arrested in Ohio after a clerk at a hotel instructed her sister to report an emergency claiming that a man dressed in full traditional Muslim clothing was on the telephone pledging allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria terrorist organization, which is also known as ISIS.
A second call was received just prior to 6:00 in the evening on Wednesday, June 29, 2016 by the Avon police department from the father of the clerk also requesting that officers be dispatched to the Fairfield Inn and Suites on Colorado Avenue. That telephone call occurred while police were still talking via telephone to the sister.
Man Arrested for Wearing Traditional Muslim Clothing
“Officers arrived minutes later to find an Arabic-speaking man standing outside the front doors of the hotel. He was dressed in a ‘thobe’ and had a cell phone in his hand”, according to this article written by Derick Waller and Courtney Danser of WEWS-TV NewsNet Channel 5 in Cleveland — which includes video of the actual incident and audio of the 911 call. “Officers, with guns drawn, ordered the man to get on the ground and drop the phone. At first he didn’t respond but police say he eventually complied and laid down.”
After al-Menhali was handcuffed, a search of his body — which was conducted by law enforcement officers — found that he had no weapons.
Police eventually removed the handcuffs from al-Menhali when they found — upon speaking to the clerk at the hotel property — that he did not “make any statements related to ISIS.”
An ambulance which was already at the scene transported al-Menhali to a hospital after he suddenly collapsed on the ground. al-Menhali was treated for minor injuries.
The mayor, police chief and law director of Avon all met with al-Menhali in person to officially apologize to him for the incident, according to this article written by Derick Waller of WEWS-TV NewsNet Channel 5 in Cleveland — which includes a video.
United Arab Emirates Issues Travel Warning
The unidentified woman may possibly face criminal charges as a result of reporting the false claim, which became an international incident when a travel warning was issued from the United Arab Emirates for its citizens to avoid wearing traditional garments when traveling abroad. According to this article from the Associated Press, “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a tweet late Saturday that Emiratis should avoid wearing the garments for their safety.”
This incident appears to have been caused by ignorance on the part of the hotel clerk, her sister and her father who seemed to automatically assume that because a man wears a traditional thobe, he must be a suspected terrorist plotting to wreak havoc in the United States.
While there have been many incidents reported by the media in recent years that Muslim extremists have initiated the terrorist attacks in Istanbul, in Brussels and in Paris — amongst other terror attacks committed in other locations around the world — the chances of you being directly involved in a terror attack are rather low. You have a significantly greater chance of being killed in a car accident on your way to work or the airport.
People of the Muslim faith are just as susceptible to being the target of terrorist attacks by extremists as anyone else. For example, this incident in Bahrain this past Thursday killed a woman and injured three children in the capital city of Manama — an attack which was official condemned by the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf states.
I have visited numerous counties which are primarily Muslim — the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Lebanon, Egypt, Oman and Malaysia to name only a few — and not once have I ever felt unsafe. For the most part, everyone was civil and treated me with respect.
Fear and hatred is just as prevalent in the United States as it is in countries which have a reputation for ignoring — or even encouraging — stereotypical behavior which leads to unfortunate incidents inflicted upon innocent people…
…such as the one upon which Ahmed al-Menhali unfortunately experienced.
Awareness is the key to ensuring our safety while simultaneously treating other people with respect, tolerance and dignity. We cannot allow extremists — Muslim or otherwise — to force us to be fearful and to dictate how we live our lives. Innocent people of all countries who abide by the law must show the extremists of the world that we are not afraid. Travel is an effective way of not only demonstrating our strength and resolve towards world unity; but it also allows us to learn more about each other in person — resulting in helping to mitigate the very stereotypes and fears which are perpetuated by nefarious individuals and organizations which blindly follow an agenda with no contrition for whatever consequences they cause.
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.