CAIR-Cleveland: Case of Emirati Man Falsely Accused of Being ISIS Member by Marriott Fairfield Inn Hotel Clerk Goes to Trial

(CLEVELAND, OH, 9/6/19) – On September 10, the trial is set to begin for a Muslim man from the United Arab Emirates who filed a federal lawsuit against several defendants including Marriott International, Inc. after being falsely accused by a hotel desk clerk of being a member of ISIS when he inquired about a hotel room in the greater Cleveland area during the run-up to the Republican National Convention. The hotel clerk’s false accusation triggered a SWAT-style police response resulting in injury to the plaintiff that required him to be hospitalized.

CAIR-Cleveland, which helped bring the case to light, is asking community members to attend in support of Al-Menhali as he seeks justice for the discriminatory treatment that he suffered.

[NOTE: The trial starts on September 10 with preliminary matters and jury selection. Community members are asked to join on the morning of September 11 for opening statements followed by witness testimony.]

WHAT: Trial of Al-Menhali v. Marriott International, Inc., et al, Case No. 1:17-CV-01089-SO

WHEN: Tuesday, September 10; 9 a.m.

WHERE: Courtroom of Judge Solomon Oliver, Carl B. Stokes United States Court House

(Corner of Superior Avenue and West 9th Street in Downtown Cleveland)

801 West Superior Avenue, Courtroom 17A (17th Floor) Cleveland, Ohio 44113-1838

CONTACT: CAIR-Cleveland Executive Director Julia Shearson, 216.830.2247, E-Mail: jshearson@cair.com.com

"No individual should suffer discrimination, humiliation and abuse while seeking a hotel room," said CAIR-Cleveland Executive Director Julia Shearson. "This shameful case of bigotry and fear-based profiling epitomizes the negative impact on society caused by the politics of scapegoating and rampant xenophobia intentionally stirred up during the 2016 presidential campaign. The damage caused by hatred and stereotyping is widespread, lasting, and hard to undo. It impacts individuals such as Mr. Al-Menhali and our community at large. As such, we hope his Al-Menhali’s rights will finally be vindicated in federal court. We ask our community to attend the trial in support of the right to be free from discrimination.”

BACKGROUNDER:

Ahmed Al-Menhali is suing Marriott International, Inc., the operators of Fairfield Inn and Suites, including two hotel employeessaying he was discriminated against for wearing traditional Arab clothes and speaking Arabic on his cell phone. He had also sued the Avon police for their response tactics, but the judge dismissed the police from the casein part because they had relied on the false report. The case against the Marriott and its employees survives and will go to trial in federal court for the Northern District of Ohio. Avon police will be called to testify. The plaintiff is represented by Sarah Gelsomino, Esq., Marcus Sidoti, Esq., and nationally known civil rights attorney Terry Gilbert, Esq., all of Friedman and Gilbert.

Al-Menhali, who was temporarily residing in the US while undergoing treatment for a heart condition at the Cleveland Clinic, was seeking a hotel room in Avon, Ohio in late June 2016 during the run-up to the Republican National Convention. As he spoke on his cell phone in Arabic while waiting in the lobby for a list of area hotels that might have an opening, the hotel clerk, instead of assisting him, sent a text message falsely claiming that Al-Menhali was pledging allegiance to ISIS merely on the basis of the clerk’s bigoted assumptions about Al-Menhali’s Arabic language and his Islamic robe and headdress. A SWAT-style police response ensued wherein a bewildered Al-Menahli was suddenly physically engaged by numerous police officers armed with multiple rifles pointed at him and pinned to the ground as he stepped outside the hotel entrance.

The incident, caught on police body camera, went viral causing international outrage in the Arab world. Officials from the United Arab Emirates subsequently issued a formal travel alert bulletin warning their citizens not to wear traditional Arab dress while traveling to the United States due to safety concerns.

SEE: Man confronted by US police after false ISIL accusation

Emirati Man Held at Gunpoint by Avon Police During Paranoid 'ISIS' Situation at Hotel Last Year Has Filed Lawsuit

VIDEO: For Muslim visitor, ugly encounter leads to apology

VIDEO: When A Muslim Man In Ohio Made A Phone Call, Five Cops Showed Up, Guns Drawn, And Someone Went To The Hospital

SEE ALSO: Emirati man sues Avon police officers, hotel officials in federal court

The filing claims negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress, discrimination, negligent supervision, and loss of consortium (on behalf of Al-Menhali’s spouse).

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.

END

CONTACT: CAIR-Cleveland Executive Director Julia Shearson, 216.830.2247, E-Mail: jshearson@cair.com.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787, 202-744-7726, E-Mail: ihooper@cair.comTerry Gilbert, Esq., 216-375-1288, E-MAIL: tgilbert@f-glaw.com


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