Two months after “clock boy” Ahmed Mohamed made international headlines, new details of his controversial arrest emerged Monday in a letter his attorney has sent to school and city officials in Irving, Texas.
As many as seven adults teamed up to interrogate the 14-year-old boy after a teacher mistook his homemade clock for a bomb and pressured him to sign a confession, according to the “letter of demand” from his lawyer warning of plans to file a $15 million suit.
Ahmed’s September arrest, deemed an overreaction by many observers, drew waves of sympathy and extensive news coverage; President Obama invited him to join several other science-inclined students at the White House’s “Astronomy Night” last month.
But his family, which shortly thereafter took up a benefactor’s offer to relocate to Qatar, argued in the letter that the boy’s reputation has been “permanently scarred.” They are seeking not only financial reparations but written apologies from the city’s mayor and police chief.
“Everyone in the country and around the world believes this has been a wonderful experience for Ahmed’s family, and in some ways, it has been,” said Anthony Bond, a family friend. “But now they are settled in Qatar, they have realized they are tremendously traumatized.”
The letters elaborate on the timeline of the arrest, which set the Internet into a frenzy and changed a 14-year-old boy’s life forever.
The letter of demand alleges that officials at Ahmed’s school never really thought that his homemade clock, assembled from “spare parts and scrap pieces he had around the house,” was a bomb. Attorneys claim that Ahmed showed it to another teacher earlier in the day without consequence. But in his English class, a teacher told him it “looked like” a bomb.
An Irving School District spokeswoman said the district received the letter of demand this morning and that its own lawyers would “respond as appropriate, as with any legal matter,” but otherwise offered no comment.
Attorneys blame the school district and the city for “stoking the flames” and placing blame on Ahmed even after it was decided he would not be criminally charged and his “suspicious-looking item” was not a threat.
The family is demanding an apology from Van Duyne and others involved because they would like to return to Irving, attorney Kelly Hollingsworth said.
“Qatar is nice, but it is not Texas. That is their attitude toward this,” Hollingsworth said. “They are citizens of Irving, Texas, USA, first. Are they devout people devoted to their faith? Absolutely. But they are Texans, too, and they want to come home. What we are seeking is for them to be able to do that with their heads held high.”
“The generosity and support Ahmed has received has been very much appreciated, but what the system has to do is try to find a way to redress him,” Hollingsworth said. “What’s the effect of this young man having his reputation in the global community scarred for the rest of his life?”
Source: Washington Post