The father of Ahmed Mohamed, the Dallas high school student who was arrested after school officials and the police thought his homemade digital clock was a hoax bomb, has sued Fox News, Glenn Beck, and the mayor of Irving, among others, for defamation.
On behalf of his son, who is a minor, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed sued eight entities in Dallas County Court last Wednesday for what he called libelous statements made around Ahmed’s arrest implying the entire incident was an intentional act.
In September 2015, Ahmed was arrested by Irving police and charged for bringing a “hoax bomb” to school. It was actually a clock. The charges were later dropped but Ahmed, referred to as “clock boy,” was suspended by his high school for three days.
The incident made international headlines, and resulted in an invitation to the White House from President Obama, who called Ahmed’s clock “cool” in a tweet. Ahmed’s arrest also garnered support from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who said in a post that “Having the skill and ambition to build something cool should lead to applause, not arrest. The future belongs to people like Ahmed.”
The majority of defendants named in the lawsuit, obtained by NBCDFW, comprises of various media personalities and entities, including conservative commentators Jim Hanson, Ben Ferguson, Ben Shapiro, Glenn Beck, and the conservative television station he founded, The Blaze, in addition to Fox Television Stations.
Beth Van Duyne — mayor of Irving, Texas — and the Center for Security Policy, a think tank where Hanson works as executive vice president, are also named in the suit.
“The public has been misled into believing that the Mohameds are terrorists who plotted to have the Irving police wrongfully arrest a teenage boy for bringing an alarm clock to school,” the suit reads. “These broadcasts fan the flames of fear and anger towards Muslims and immigrants.”
The suit claims that during an appearance on Beck’s show on The Blaze, Hanson and Van Duyne discussed the “theory” that the entire incident was “as simple as the progressives trying to turn Texas blue,” the suit said.
According to the lawsuit, Hanson added to the discussion, saying the event was a “PR stunt” and the Mohamed family was “tied” to the Council on American Islamic Relations, which is the “Muslim Brotherhood” and “Hamas tied.” Van Duyne “participated in the discussion and did not object to or correct any of the comments,” the suit alleged.
The suit adds the Irving mayor “stated on numerous occasions that Ahmed was not forthcoming with the school or the police and that Ahmed had brought a ‘hoax bomb’ to school." The 21-page suit also claims she told a local Fox affiliate the Mohamed family was “‘non-responsive’ to the City’s request to release records about the incident and that Ahmed was ‘not forthcoming with information.’”
BuzzFeed News has reached out to Glenn Beck, The Blaze, Van Duyne, Hanson, and the Center for Security Policy for comment but has not received a response.
The lawsuit asks that The Blaze, Beck, Hanson, and Van Duyne “retract and correct the statement” and “acknowledge that the original broadcast was false,” adding that the “Mohamed family are peaceful Muslims who have been falsely accused of being terrorists and engaging in a jihad.”
Similarly, the suit also alleges that Ferguson claimed on a Fox affiliate station that Mohamed used his son and “pre-planned” the incident to unfold the way it did.
“‘He was never afraid. He was never nervous and he loves the cameras like the Kardashians so if anything congratulations you’re famous and you’ve caused a bunch of people problems,’” the lawsuit quotes Ferguson as saying on the local news broadcast, at one point calling the situation a “money grab.”
Likewise, the suit alleges that Shapiro appeared on Fox News in October 2015, and was quoted as saying the clock was a “hoax” and “a setup.”
BuzzFeed News has also reached out to Ferguson and Shapiro for comment but has not received a response.
In two occasions, the lawsuit claims that “Fox failed to act with due care” during these interviews.
The lawsuit requests a jury trial and various damages.
The family also filed a federal lawsuit against his former school district and the city of Irving in August, alleging that he was discriminated against.
Talal Ansari is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. His secure PGP fingerprint is 4FEE 894C 8088 7E08 E170 A515 2801 7CC6 95D3 11C2
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