The young man in the above video is 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed, a ninth-grade student at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas. On Monday, he was simply a bright, ambitious student who wanted to show off his talents by making his own clock and bringing it to his teachers. On Wednesday, however, he’s the subject of his own trending hashtag on Twitter, because people are outraged at what happened when he unveiled his invention. As Mohamed explains to the Dallas Morning News, he was taken from his class by the principal and arrested by a police officer for what they believed to be a “hoax bomb.”
Within minutes of the news breaking, people took to Twitter to share their support for Ahmed by declaring #IStandWithAhmed, and sharing this image of the teen handcuffed at the police department.
Many have labeled this a strong case of Islamophobia, but most people are simply stunned that this child was treated in such a way for showing off his intellect. On top of the arrest, Ahmed has been suspended from school, and Irving police are reportedly still considering charging him for bringing a hoax bomb to school. Naturally, his father is outraged, presumably because the police response to this situation is baffling.
Ahmed never claimed his device was anything but a clock, said police spokesman James McLellan. And police have no reason to think it was dangerous. But officers still didn’t believe Ahmed was giving them the whole story.
“We have no information that he claimed it was a bomb,” McLellan said. “He kept maintaining it was a clock, but there was no broader explanation.”
Asked what broader explanation the boy could have given, the spokesman explained:
“It could reasonably be mistaken as a device if left in a bathroom or under a car. The concern was, what was this thing built for? Do we take him into custody?” (Via Dallas Morning News)
Ahmed’s description of the events leading up to him being pulled from his 6th-period class are alarming if true. He claims one teacher told him not to share his clock with anyone else, while his English teacher told him that it “looks like a bomb” when the alarm went off during her class. Finally, when he was brought before four police officers in another room, Ahmed claims an officer said: “Yup. That’s who I thought it was.”
On Tuesday, the school’s principal, Dan Cummings, sent a letter to parents explaining that police responded to “a suspicious-looking item on campus,” but Ahmed’s father believes that this was a reaction based on his son’s name and 9/11. The Council on American-Islamic Relations is currently conducting its own investigation. We will update this story as more news becomes available.