Police and officials in the US have apologised to an Emirati man who was arrested at an Ohio hotel after being wrongfully accused of having links to ISIL.
Brian Jensen, mayor of Avon city, and police chief Richard Bosley met Ahmed Al Menhali and apologised to the businessman for the incident during a meeting organised by a local advocacy group.
Mr Al Menhali, 41, who was arrested at the Fairfield Inn and Suites after a hotel clerk reported him to police as behaving in a suspicious manner, said the apology was "a very positive first step", although he questioned why the incident happened.
The married father of three was detained at the scene and handcuffed by armed officers but quickly released after the situation was found to be a false alarm.
Mr Al Menhali fainted after being released, in what he called a panic attack, and was taken to hospital.
Mr Jensen, whose father went to the US from Denmark and did not speak English fluently, said he understood how Mr Al Menhali felt and knew what it was like to be regarded as being different.
Mr Bosley said he would carefully review the incident and he and his officers would look for ways to improve their response, particularly to people with limited English.
He said he would welcome training for officers to better understand Islam and Muslims to help break down barriers.
The officials committed to supply Mr Al Menhali and the public with all records on the matter, including videos and other information made available under the Ohio public records laws.
“No one from the police department wanted to disrespect you,” Mr Bosley told Mr Al Menhali.
“That was not the intent of any of our officers. It is a very regrettable circumstance that occurred for you. You should not have been put in that situation like you were.”
Mr Jensen said: “There were some false accusations made against you”, and that he hoped the person who made them would learn from the incident.
Mr Al Menhali was in Ohio for treatment after having a stroke. He appreciated the apology but still wondered why he had been arrested. “How could it escalate and move from a slight doubt to an arrest like that?” he asked.
Mr Al Menhali said he would remain in the US for treatment but was considering hiring a lawyer after suffering a great deal of harm and embarrassment because of the incident, which he said put his life at risk.
He said the apology was evidence that officials in Avon – a city of 22,000 that is over 92 per cent white – made the arrest without any evidence that he had links to terrorist organisations.
“I told staff at the hotel that I had been receiving treatment at for a long time, but that did not stop the actions taken against me.”