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US teen arrested over clock seeks $15 million in damages

The Muslim boy arrested after his teacher mistook a homemade clock for a bomb is threatening to sue his school and the city of Irving, Texas, for $15 million. The incident sparked an outcry and allegations of racism.

Attorneys representing Ahmed Mohamed,14, sent letters Monday demanding $10 million (14 million euros) from the city of Irving, Texas, and $5 million from the Irving Independent School District.

The letters also seek written apologies and threaten civil lawsuits if no response is received within 60 days.

Ahmed, a robotics enthusiast, took a homemade clock to his Dallas-area school in September to show to a new teacher. When he presented the device, staff accused him of trying to scare people with a hoax bomb and called the police. Ahmed was taken into custody and suspended from school, but no charges were ever filed.

Lawyers this week said the ninth grader was wrongfully arrested, illegally detained and questioned without his parents.

"What has happened to this family is inexcusable," attorney Kelly Hollingsworth wrote. "As indicated in the letters, the long term effects on Ahmed are incalculable."

"Ahmed clearly was singled out because of his race, national origin and religion," she added.

Meribeth Sloan, a spokeswoman for Irving, said the city was reviewing its letter and had no comment. The school district is yet to respond.

Public outcry

The clock incident sparked a huge outpouring of support for Ahmed, mainly on social media, with many accusing the school and police of Islamophobia. A photo of Ahmed in handcuffs was retweeted thousands of times within a matter of hours, while #IStandWithAhmed became Twitter's top trending hashtag.

US President Barack Obama also chimed in, congratulating the teen on his skills and inviting him to bring the clock to the White House.

Ahmed, whose parents are from Sudan, has since traveled around the world to meet a number of foreign dignitaries.

Meanwhile, others have questioned the boy's motives in bringing the device to school. Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist and advocate for rational thought, caused a backlash when he called Ahmed a fraud and raised doubts the boy had even invented the clock in the first place. Dawkins said it appeared he may have just taken a commercial alarm clock out of its casing, rather than assembling the parts himself.

According to the Mohamed's lawyers, the family says all the attention in the past few months has ruined their lives and prompted their decision to leave Texas. They are now living in Qatar, where Ahmed was offered a scholarship to take part in a program for young innovators.

nm/msh (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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