x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Gang of youths assault Dubai shopkeeper and customers with sticks

Take our poll: A gang of youths beat up the owner of a mobile phone shop, his partner and two of his customers after a disagreement over the price of a mobile phone cover.

Fone Spot mobile store in Satwa where the shopkeeper was attacked by a gang of youths with sticks after a disagreement over the price of a BlackBerry cover.
Fone Spot mobile store in Satwa where the shopkeeper was attacked by a gang of youths with sticks after a disagreement over the price of a BlackBerry cover.

DUBAI // Police were accused today of standing by and refusing to intervene as a gang of youths beat up the owner of a mobile phone shop, his partner and two of his customers.

The brawl started as a fist fight before some of the 13-strong gang used wooden sticks to attack the four men.

The victims were treated in Rashid Hospital after the incident at the shop near Satwa mosque on Monday night, and went to Bur Dubai police station today to file a complaint.

“The police did nothing, they didn’t arrest any of them,” said the shop-owner’s Emirati partner Amer Mohammed, 30. “There are witnesses who can say the police just stood there.”

Abdul Rahman Mahdi, who works in another mobile phone shop near by and witnessed the attack, said: “Only two policemen came and they were only looking, they did not do anything while the men continued to fight.”

Col Ali Ghanem, director of Bur Dubai police station, defended his officers. “These allegations are baseless and illogical. We have certain procedures we follow,” he said.

The incident began when five young men walked into the shop just before 9pm on Monday and started bargaining over the cost of a cover for a mobile phone.

“They had trouble written all over their faces,” said Naser Osman, the owner of the shop.

He said they took issue with the price he quoted and accused him of trying to rip them off.

“They started shouting, I asked them to stop but they refused,” said Mr Osman. “So I said I would call the police but they were indifferent. One of them said they were not scared of anyone.”

He said the youths had visited the shop before, at least once a week for the past three weeks. They would request items he obviously didn’t stock before disappearing.

The shopkeeper called the police and after 10 minutes of waiting decided to call again. After the second call he went outside for a cigarette.

The five youths then tried to leave the shop, but Mr Osman told them they needed to stay until the police arrived.

A friend and customer of Mr Osman, a Canadian man who was also standing outside, then reached for his mobile.

“The young men thought he wanted to take pictures of them so they started attacking him, I couldn’t stand watching while they beat him,” said Mr Osman.

Mr Osman’s partner Amer Mohammed and his partner’s cousin tried to stop the attack on the Canadian, but a further eight youths arrived and joined in the fight.

The shopkeeper said the brawl started as a fist fight, but some of the youths obtained wooden sticks. He said police arrived about 35 minutes after his call.

Mr Mohammed said that when police did arrive they appeared reluctant to intervene. After watching him being beaten "for the longest time”, he said, one of two officers called to the scene stepped out of his car and said to one of the gang: “Suroor, is this you stirring trouble again?”

“But the police wouldn’t interfere,” Mr Mohammed said. “They just stepped aside. The Canadian tried to escape and he went to hide behind the officer but the policeman stepped aside.”

Mohammed Ramthan, who works for a sportswear shop opposite the phone outlet, also saw the group of young men beating Mr Osman.

“There were many people watching the fight,” said Mr Ramthan. “They did not stop even after the police came.”

The four victims suffered scratches to various parts of their bodies, including neck, leg and back, and drove themselves to hospital for treatment.

They were discharged in the early hours today before going to the police station to file the complaint.

Col Ghanem said police were investigating the case but that nobody had been arrested. “It was a small fight which started over a mobile phone cover,” he said.

“We need to listen to everyone involved to determine what really happened, we cannot hear from only one side.” The injuries involved were “very minor”, he said.

Mr Osman’s brother Faraj said it was the first time there had been violence at the shop in its 15 years of operation. The two brothers are considering legal action against both the gang and the police.

“What was more shocking for us was not the fight but the fact you have police standing and not doing anything, and that the gang are not afraid of the police.

“I’m going to do anything it takes to make sure people are aware of this. People need to know what kind of things we are dealing with. This is completely ridiculous.”

WIssa@thenational.ae

ZAlhassani@thenational.ae