A 14-year-old freshman from MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas was arrested and led out in handcuffs for reportedly “making a fake bomb.” Ahmed Mohamed had proudly brought a homemade clock, that he constructed for a project, onto school grounds with the intention of showing his engineering teacher. Ahmed, who plans to go to M.I.T. due to a love for tinkering and technology, builds and invents as a passion. Ahmed’s father, Mohamed El Hassan, says he has fixed his car, his phone, his electricity and his computer and had built, in true all-American fashion, a go-kart.
“That is not America,” he said of Ahmed’s detainment. “That is not us. That is not like us.”
Ahmed initially brought the invention to his engineering teacher for which he was commended for his ingenuity. Later in English class his clock began to beep which aroused undue suspicion when considering this is an average 14-year-old boy. A persons religious beliefs, especially in this country, should not play a factor when discussing an incident such as this, yet many feel that is exactly what allowed this situation to get out of hand.
“This episode is a good illustration of how pernicious stereotypes can prevent even good-hearted people who have dedicated their lives to educating young people from doing the good work that they set out to do,” said Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary.
The question has been asked whether or not this would have happened if Ahmed was white with a different name. The invention was made from a metal briefcase-style box, a digital display, wires, and a circuit board with cords, screws and electrical components. It was not your everyday bedside clock, so the initial alarm after seeing the boxes contents is understood if not condoned. However when asked what the object was Ahmed told school officials, “it is only a clock.”
“She thought it was a threat to her,” Ahmed told reporters Wednesday. “So it was really sad that she took a wrong impression of it.”
After the hysteria dissipated, and these overzealous officials realized that it was indeed just a clock, they then continued to charge him nonetheless with “making a fake bomb” claiming he had the intention of instigating exactly the type of situation these officials created themselves. Fingerprints and a mug shot were taken at a juvenile detention center and his clock was confiscated. Ahmed was suspended from school for three days, until Thursday when he was contacted on Twitter by President Barrack Obama:
“Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great.”
At a news conference on Wednesday, Irving police chief Larry Boyd said that the officers were justified in their actions of arresting the teenager based on the information they had at the time. They claim it was “not immediately evident” that his clock was a class experiment, despite Ahmed telling them just that. Boyd later added that the police had “no evidence to support that there was an intention to create an alarm.” Ultimately, these officers were doing what they believed to be right at the time. No one can fault them for erring on the side of caution. The real social injustice is within the embedded fear of an entire religion that has been systematically added to everyday American life. “Ahmed’s arrest is a logical conclusion to Islamophobia in Irving and it’s deplorable,” the chairwoman of the Dallas County Democratic Party, Carol Donovan, said in a statement. Ahmed’s family has lived in their Texas home for over 30 years. They are the epitome of American culture today. This fear created doubt in the minds of campus officials when they saw a muslim boy with a beeping briefcase. This fear clouded judgement and allowed a simple misunderstanding to alter the course of one young boy’s life. When asked if he had a message for others like himself, Ahmed said:
“Don’t let people change who you are.”
The police still have not returned his clock.
Sources: http://time.com/4036951/ahmed-mohamed-clock-bomb-school-safety/, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/16/ahmed-mohamed-clock-bigotry-american-muslims, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/17/us/texas-student-is-under-police-investigation-for-building-a-clock.html