ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, July 3 (UPI) — United Arab Emirates warned its citizens not to wear traditional garb when traveling abroad for fear they might be mistaken for members of the Islamic State militant group.
The UAE gave the warning after an Emirati man was wrestled to the ground in Ohio, mistaken for a member of the extremist group. The warning was made “to preserve their safety” the UAE Ministry of Interior said.
The man, Ahmed al-Menhali, wore a traditional Emirati kandora and an headdress. Al-Menhali, a 41-year-old businessman, was detained in a hotel in Avon, Ohio after a clerk called police to say he was on the phone pledging allegiance to the IS, BBC reported.
Police received a call from the sister of an Ohio hotel clerk who had told her there was a man in the lobby “in full headdress with multiple disposable phones pledging his allegiance to [the IS]. The clerk’s father also called police reporting the same thing.
Police detained al-Menhali at gun point.
Assistant Under-Secretary for Consular Affairs Ahmed Elham Al Dhaheri said several advisory warnings were issued Saturday night directed mostly at travelers flying to Europe where some countries have a ban on burquas in public areas, Gulf News reported.
“If Emiratis do travel to those places, they are strongly recommended to abide by the ban to avoid any legal repercussions or fines,” said Al Dhaheri.
“People should take extra precaution when travelling abroad due to the security developments in some European countries, which was triggered by the unfolding unrest in the Middle East region, [and also because of] the refugee crisis,” he said.
The warnings did not make mention of the Ohio incident, but came about shortly after that occurred.
Both the Avon police chief and the mayor apologized to Al-Menhali for the incident.
“There were some false accusations made against you,” Mayor Brian Jensen said. “And those are regrettable. I hope…the person that made those can maybe learn from those.”