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Charges mooted over UAE robes incident at Ohio hotel

Still taken from video of police arresting man in white robes in Ohio - July 2016

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WEWS Channel 5

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A police video showing Ahmed al Menhali’s arrest was published online

An Ohio mayor says charges may be brought over a false accusation that a United Arab Emirates (UAE) tourist vowed allegiance to the so-called Islamic State (IS) militant group.

Ahmed al-Menhali, a businessman, was detained while wearing traditional robes in a hotel in Avon, Ohio.

Bodycam footage showed him being roughly confronted at gunpoint.

The UAE later urged its citizens to not wear national dress outside the region.

According to Avon Mayor Bryan Jensen, two emergency calls were placed by relatives of a female clerk at the hotel who were unnerved by Mr Menhali’s appearance.

They told police he was carrying several phones and pledging allegiance to IS.

Mr Jensen said: “We came to find out that those statements were never heard by anyone, the statements were never said.

“A person who makes a false accusation like that endangers not only the person that they are making them about but [also] it frustrates us and angers us that we’re going into a situation that puts our police officers in a position they would never want to be in.”

Mr Jenson met Mr Menhali and Julia Shearson, the head of the local branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

“There were some false accusations made against you, and those are regrettable,” the mayor told Mr Menhali.

After meeting him, Muslim community leaders invited the officials to break fast with them as part of the holy month of Ramadan.

A video of Mr Menhali’s arrest, filmed by police, was published by WEWS on Friday.

It shows armed police approaching him outside a hotel and forcing him to lie on the floor, before searching him.

Mr Menhali, who is wearing white robes, the ghutra headdress and the agal – cords to hold the headdress in place – is heard repeatedly asking why police stopped him.

“They were brutal with me,” Mr Menhali told the UAE newspaper The National. “They pressed forcefully on my back. I had several injuries and bled from the forceful nature of their arrest.”

The UAE ministry of interior warning was distributed on Saturday. A day later, the ministry also issued travel advice to Emirati citizens, urging them to respect bans of the full-face veil where they are in place.

The note also urges people “to take caution while abroad due to the security developments in some European countries, triggered by the unfolding unrest in the Middle East region, and their fallout, especially the refugee crisis”.

In April, an Iraqi university student in California was escorted off a Southwest Airlines flight for having a conversation in Arabic.

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