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Loretta Lynch defends Muslims and announces investigation in arrest of Texas 'clock kid'

Loretta Lynch defends Muslims and announces investigation in arrest of Texas 'clock kid'
Atty. Gen. Loretta Lynch says the Justice Department will investigate the arrest of a 14-year-old Muslim boy who officials feared had brought a bomb to school. It was a clock. (Michael Reynolds / European Pressphoto Agency)

Atty. Gen. Loretta Lynch, speaking to the American Muslim community just a day after the attacks in San Bernardino, announced Thursday night that the Justice Department will investigate the arrest of a 14-year-old Muslim boy for bringing a homemade clock to school in Texas.

The Irving Police Department arrested Ahmed Mohamed in September after school authorities grew suspicious of a clock that Mohamed said he made and brought to school to show his teacher. Authorities suspected it was a bomb.

Ahmed was never charged, but several congressmen asked Lynch for the civil rights investigation she promised Thursday.

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Last week the boy's family threatened a lawsuit and demanded an apology and $15 million -- $10 million from the city of Irving and $5 million from the Irving Independent School District.

Lynch was speaking during an "armchair conversation" in a Virginia suburb of Washington at a dinner being held by the Muslim Advocates, a national legal advocacy group for the rights of Muslims.

Scheduled far in advance of Wednesday's shootings, in which 14 people died, it was Lynch's first appearance as attorney general with the Muslim community.

Although she did not speak directly of the San Bernardino shootings at the event, Lynch said there had been a "very disturbing rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric" since the Paris shootings three weeks ago.

"When we are ruled by fear, we are not making ourselves safe," Lynch said.

She specifically criticized proposals in Congress to block Syrian refugees from the U.S.

"This is not the way," she said, and people were "simply rushing to judgment."

"My message to the Muslim community is we stand with you in this," Lynch said to Farhana Khera, the executive director of Muslim Advocates.

Twitter: @timphelpsLAT

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