Ali Issa Ahmad: British man held in UAE for ‘wearing Qatar football shirt’

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The Foreign Office has said it is assisting a British man who has been detained in the United Arab Emirates following reports a man was arrested for wearing a Qatar replica football shirt.

Ali Issa Ahmad, 26, from Wolverhampton, went to the UAE on holiday last month and while there, was allegedly arrested for wearing a Qatar shirt to the Asian Cup tie between Qatar and Iraq on 22 January, the Guardian reported.

However, the UAE embassy in London gave a different version of events in a statement, accusing Mr Ahmad of making false accusations.

It said: “A dual Sudanese-British citizen, presented himself to the police station there in January claiming he had been harassed and beaten up by UAE national football fans for cheering the Qatar team at the AFC Club tournament.

“The police took him to hospital where a doctor who examined him, concluded that his injuries were inconsistent with his account of events and appeared to be self-inflicted.

“On 24th of January 2019 Mr Ahmed was charged with wasting police time and making false statements. We are advised that he has since admitted those offences and will now be processed through the UAE courts.”

Allowed to make a phone call on 31 January, Mr Ahmad called his friend Amer Lokie, who told the paper he had been “beaten” by security men after being accused of promoting Qatar.

“He went to the police station to report the assault and was accused of telling lies about the incident,” Mr Lokie added.

The Foreign Office warns in its advice for visitors to the UAE that anyone “showing sympathy for Qatar on social media or by any other means of communication could be jailed or handed a ‘substantial’ fine”.

The laws were introduced after the UAE joined Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt in cutting ties with Qatar in 2017 over allegations the tiny, oil-rich state supports Islamic extremists.

Earlier, a spokesman for the UAE embassy in London said: “As the 1.5m British citizens who visit the UAE each year know, we are a country built on the rule of law and respect for individuals.

“Allegations of human rights violations are taken extremely seriously and will be thoroughly investigated.”

(c) Sky News 2019: Ali Issa Ahmad: British man held in UAE for ‘wearing Qatar football shirt’

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