The family of a Muslim boy who was arrested last year after bringing a homemade clock to school filed a federal lawsuit Monday against Texas school officials and others, saying they violated the 14-year-old boy’s civil rights.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Ahmed Mohamed, who was arrested at his suburban Dallas high school in September and charged with having a hoax bomb. He says he brought the homemade digital clock to school to show his teacher.
Irving police later dropped the charge, but he was still suspended.
The lawsuit names Irving Independent School District, the city of Irving and the school’s principal. District spokeswoman Lesley Weaver said in a statement Monday that attorneys for the district will review the suit and determine a course of action.
“Irving ISD continues to deny violating the student’s rights and will respond to claims in accordance with court rules,” she said, adding that school officials for now will have no further comment.
The Mohamed family questioned whether the boy was mistreated due to his religion but the district has denied the claim.
The family has since moved to Qatar, citing threats and a scholarship offered to Ahmed in the Persian Gulf country. Ahmed moved back to the United States last month for the summer to visit family and friends, and will do some traveling around the country.
Among the claims made in the suit, which was brought by the teen’s father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, is that the boy’s right to equal protection under the law was violated and that officers arrested him without probable cause.
Ahmed was a victim of systemic discrimination by the school district and state Board of Education that has marginalized Muslims and other minority groups, the suit claims.
“History tells us that when we have stood tall and proud for equality and freedom, we have grown as a nation,” the suit says. “When we have given in to fear and hate, we flounder.”
The suit adds, “In the case of Ahmed Mohamed, we have the opportunity to take a stand for equality and for justice, two things that should prevail above all else.”
Ahmed’s story brought an outpouring of support from President Barack Obama, other political leaders, corporate executives and NASA scientists.