TAMPA, Florida – Two Saudi men were held without bond Sunday after they were arrested for boarding a school bus full of children, authorities said.
Mana Saleh Almanajam, 23, and Shaker Mohsen Alsidran, 20, were charged with misdemeanor trespassing and were being held at Orient Road Jail after a judge said Saturday she wanted more background information on them.
Investigators said they boarded the school bus Friday, sat down and began speaking in Arabic. Their behavior concerned the driver, a substitute, who alerted the school district.
The men were asked why they boarded the bus, and sheriff's spokesman J.D. Callaway said they gave different answers: They wanted to enroll in an easier English language program than the one at USF, they wanted to see a high school, and they thought it would be fun.
A friend tried to bail Almanajam and Alsidran out of jail, but Circuit Judge Monica Sierra decided to detain the pair. She scheduled a Tuesday hearing and asked that an Arabic interpreter be present.
Ahmed Bedier, director of the Central Florida Council on American-Islamic Relations, said it sounded like a cultural mix-up.
"The only reason (this happened) is because of who they are, and that's wrong," he said.