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UAE warns against wearing traditional attire while abroad – US arrest incident prompts call

DUBAI, July 3, (Agencies): The United Arab Emirates has advised its citizens to avoid wearing traditional Arab clothing in Western countries after US police “brutally” detained an Emirati businessman suspected of being a jihadist.

The 41-year-old, visiting the United States for medical treatment, was wearing a white robe and Arab headdress Wednesday when he was arrested at a hotel in Cleveland, Ohio after an employee suspected he had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) group, apparently in a phone call. A video of the incident, posted on Youtube, shows several policemen armed with rifles take down Ahmed al-Menhali, and then handcuff and search him.

“They were brutal with me. They pressed forcefully on my back. I had several injuries and bled from the forceful nature of their arrest,” Menhali said, quoted in The National daily. The Emirati foreign ministry, in a statement posted on Twitter, urged citizens “not to wear the national dress during their travel, especially in public areas, to ensure their own safety”. After confirming that Menhali posed no danger, the policemen let go of the Emirati man, who said he collapsed and needed treatment in hospital. Menhali had been in the United States since April for treatment after a brain stroke suffered last year, said Emarat Al-Youm, another UAE daily.

Anti-Muslim incidents have spiked in the United States on the back of deadly IS attacks in the West that prompted presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to call for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country. The English language The National said the receptionist at the Fairfield Inn hotel called the police after she heard the man talking on his phone in the hotel lobby. Gulf News, another UAE newspaper, published photos of the Emirati man in white robes being wrestled to the ground and handcuffed before being led away by police.

In a message on a Foreign Ministry Twitter account focusing on citizens travelling abroad, the ministry said on Saturday: “For citizens travelling outside the country, and in order to ensure their safety, we point out not to wear formal dress while travelling, especially in public places,” the message dated July 2 stated, without referring to the Avon incident.

The Foreign Ministry, in a message posted on its website in Arabic and English, urged citizens to abide by the laws of countries they are visiting. It alerted women to countries in Europe whose laws prohibit wearing of face covers, also without referring to the incident in Avon. Local newspapers said Avon police released the man after they realised their mistake, but he fainted and needed hospital treatment

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