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Police apologise after pointing gun at innocent Muslim man in Isis false alarm

The Avon police department and mayor have said sorry, but added that the police response was ‘standard protocol’ based on the information they received


Rachael Revesz
New York
Tuesday 05 July 2016 09:29 BST
Avon police incident involving man mistaken as member of ISIS

Ohio officials have apologized for pointing guns and shouting at a Muslim businessman after he was falsely accused of pledging his allegiance to Isis.

“You should not have been put in that situation,” said Avon police chief Richard Bosley.

Police had been responding to claims from a hotel desk clerk at Fairfield Inn and Suites in Avon that Ahmed Al Menhali was using multiple cell phones and talking about the Islamic State.

At least five officers with guns arrived on the scene to find the 41-year-old, who was in Cleveland on a tourist visa to receive medical care, talking on his cell phone in Arabic by the hotel entrance.

Police video footage shows them shouting at Mr Al Menhali, pointing guns at him, carrying out a body search and putting him in handcuffs without providing any explanation.

Police later found the desk clerk had not heard him talking about Isis. Mr Al Menhali was released from handcuffs but he collapsed at the scene and was taken to hospital.

The United Arab Emirates ministry of foreign affairs “expressed dismay at the brutal way with which Ohio Police treated the Emirati citizen” in a statement.

Mr Al Menhali had been asking if there were any available rooms at the hotel as the apartment he had been renting in Lakewood since April was to host delegates at the upcoming Republican National Committee conference, where Donald Trump is likely to be announced official candidate.

The husband and father of three suffered a light stroke outside the hotel and was hospitalized overnight until Saturday.

Avon mayor Bryan Jensen said in a statement that the incident was “regrettable” but that the police officers “took the steps that are part of our police department’s standard response protocol” based on the information they received.

Both the hotel desk clerk's sister and father phoned 911.

The mayor added they are investigating whether to press charges on those involved in phoning emergency services, and are also reviewing the response by the police.

Julia Shearson, executive director of the Cleveland branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told The Independent that the businessman had been wearing a long robe called a thobe, and had been dressed “immaculately”.

Ms Shearson recommended the hotel, owned by Marriott Hotels, should carry out diversity training among its staff.

Marriott International said in a statement to The Independent: "This was a terrible misunderstanding and we deeply regret what happened to Mr Al Menhali. Diversity and inclusion is a core principle of Marriott's operations and we remain committed to providing a welcoming environment.

"We have been in regular contact with the hotel since the incident and we will be following up to discuss diversity and inclusion training designed to help prevent this type of situation," the statement added.

Mr Al Menhali said he appreciated the apology from the police but it "was not enough".

“Ahmed greatly appreciates the overture by coming to meet him on a holiday weekend. He appreciates their sincere apology, this is a positive and very important first step,” a translator said on his behalf, as reported by CNN.

“However, he still has a lot of unanswered questions and concerns [as] to how this could have happened in the first place.”

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