DETROIT - The families of metro Detroit high school students are crying foul and fighting back against charges stemming from a fight on the field during a football game.
Four teens, Ali Bajjey, Fanar Al-Asady, Hadee Attia and Mohamed Ahmed, are facing charges of aggravated assault for the incident that happened Oct. 21 between Star Academy and Westland Lutheran High School.
The quarterback for Lutheran planned to touch his knee to the ground to end the game, with Lutheran leading 48 to 6. Police said game officials knew this and instructed teams not to have contact after the snap. But players from Star Academy, according to police, went after the quarterback, knocking him to the ground and kicking him. The quarterback suffered a concussion.
But the Council on American-Islamic Relations held a news conference Tuesday on the basis that the allegations are not true.
CAIR said there is new video showing the incident was "greatly exaggerated" and that the players were targeted because they were Arab-American.
"We believe that from the very beginning that, if these young men may have been of a different ethnicity, of a different religion, different skin color, that Dearborn Heights police officer most likely would not have been so aggressive in the means in which he carried out his investigation," said CAIR Executive Director Dawud Walid.
Attorney Nabih Ayad said said players are commonly involved in "skirmishes" in post play but that these players were treated differently because of ethnic profiling.
"Had their names been John or Bill, Randy or Jason, I don't think these charges would be standing here today. Because of the Arab ethnicity, I think these charges were brought with the racial animus behind it," he said. "If you play football, you better watch out. You can't be aggressive because you may be charged with a criminal act. We're asking judges to be referees on every play."
In response, the Wayne County Prosecutor issued a statement that said it had a policy against allowing race or ethnicity to influence any part of the charging process.
"Our investigation in this case includes a video tape which captured the incident. After a review of the evidence, we have charged the people involved in this incident with the appropriate charges," Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said.
No comment was received from Lutheran High School.
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