A Texas Muslim teenager arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school that was mistaken for a bomb is demanding $15 million in damages and an apology from the city of Irving and the school instead of filing a lawsuit, his lawyers have announced.
Lisa Maria Garza reports for Reuters that the attorneys represent the family of Ahmed Mohamed, 14, who is interested in robotics and attended a high school in the Dallas area. The arrest, which took place in September, was controversial and drove many to say he was arrested because of his religion. According to Mohamed’s lawyers, the ninth-grader was wrongly arrested, illegally detained, and questioned without having his parents present.
The family is asking for $5 million in damages from the Irving Independent School District and $10 million from Irving, a city located west of Dallas. If this request is not met, they will file a civil suit within 60 days.
“Understandably, Mr. Mohamed was furious at the treatment of his son – and at the rancid, openly discriminatory intent that motivated it,” attorneys said in one of the letters written to the City of Irving.
City officials were not available for comment at the time of this report, and the district announced that its representatives were studying the demand and would respond appropriately.
In October, the boy’s family said they would be moving to Qatar and that their son would be studying at the Qatar Foundation in its Young Innovators Program. They made the announcement several hours after he attended an astronomy night at the White House hosted by President Obama.
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, said:
“[H]aving the skill and ambition to build something cool should lead to applause, not arrest.”
The family has also traveled the world to meet foreign dignitaries. Despite the family’s travels and several television appearances, the Mohamed family states that the negative attention has ruined their lives and has driven them out of the US. They are currently living in Doha, Qatar.
Ashley Fantz, Christopher Lett, and Catherine E. Shoichet of CNN write that Mohamed’s attorneys say that his civil rights were violated because of the manner in which the case was handled. They added that he was not read his Miranda rights during his arrest and that individuals involved with the incident conspired to cover up mistakes by way of a media response that alienated their client.
The Mohamed family’s legal team said Ahmed was wrongly detained because of his religion, national origin, and his race.
Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne appeared on the Glenn Beck television program calling the clock a “hoax bomb.” She agreed when Beck called the event “an influence operation” to create a “civilization jihad,” according to the AFP news agency.
WFAA-TV’s Jordan Armstrong and Jason Wheeler report that the family’s attorneys say that Ahmed suffered an on-campus detention and a 7-on-1 questioning period that was about 85 minutes long. He was also pressed to sign a statement that his intention was to bring a “hoax bomb” to school.
Even when the bomb was found to be a clock, the legal team says the school spoke with the media and created a blitz against a 14-year-old boy. Kelly Hollingsworth, a member of the legal team, said:
“Right now, every member of my staff and every lawyer in this law firm has been called expletives, and gotten emails with expletives, and been called every name in the book.”