United Arab Emirates businessman Ahmed Al Menhali was in the United States last week for treatment of several medical conditions in Cleveland.
Instead, he ended up collapsing outside an Avon, Ohio, hotel, after police officers charged at him with guns raised and handcuffed him.
They were responding to a false report that Al Menhali, dressed head-to-toe in traditional Arabian thobe, pledged allegiance to ISIS in a phone call from the Fairfield Inn and Suites lobby.
The UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation called for an apology from Avon officials and warned citizens against wearing national dress when traveling to the United States.
Avon’s mayor and police chief apologized to Al Menhali on Saturday in a meeting in the Cleveland office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
“You should not have been put in that situation,” Avon Police Chief Richard Bosley said.
Marriott Hotels, which owns Fairfield Inn and Suites, did not respond to requests for comment.
Al Menhali said he is grateful for the apology but it’s not enough. He wants those responsible for the 911 call to be held accountable. And, he hopes the police department will use it as a teachable moment in cross-cultural encounters.
“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.
“However, he still has a lot of unanswered questions and concerns [as] to how this could have happened in the first place.”