Paris joins big screen boycott of World Cup games from Qatar
A British Muslim man was forced to stay for hours in jail after attempting to join the huge protests against Qatar at the World Cup.
Ahmed Ahmed was arrested by Spanish police at Madrid airport on Monday night after attempting to fly to Qatar.
He was held for more than four hours before being released without charge at the request of Spanish authorities.
The 29-year-old, originally from Leicester, was detained at Madrid’s El Prat airport as he tried to travel to Qatar for the World Cup on an onward ticket from London.
The protest against the Gulf state, now being held in support of the protest in Syria, is causing chaos as Qatari authorities ban flights to Syria in protest at the death of a teenage girl, who reportedly fell from a moving aeroplane.
Mr Ahmed was told to make his trip to the Gulf state by email from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Qatari officials said the email was sent to the country’s embassy in London.
Mr Ahmed claimed the email was not a request for him to be detained, which would have been illegal under Qatari law. Instead it was a ‘visit request’, which is an email to the embassy’s official address.
The Foreign Office said the email was sent at midnight on Monday evening, and it advised British consular staff at the Spanish embassy in Qatar.
The Embassy said: ‘If you have any concerns about where you are or what arrangements you need for travel, we ask that you contact the Embassy either in person or by email.’
Qatar has confirmed Mr Ahmed was arrested on arrival at the El Prat airport as a result of a separate passport issue, which was not linked to the protests in Spain.
It said: ‘Qatar Airways, working closely with Spanish authorities, has provided a letter to the Spanish Consulate in Doha to release Ahmed at the request of Spanish authorities concerned.’
Mr Ahmed, an unemployed carpenter from Leicester, was detained for four hours at El Prat, where he was due to fly to Qatar, before being released without charge.
After several hours at the airport, Mr Ahmed was eventually allowed to return to the UK.
Spain’s Foreign ministry declined to confirm the name of the man detained at the airport, but said