MANILA, Philipines – A Muslim teen was led out of a Texas school in handcuffs after a teacher mistook his homemade digital clock for a bomb, prompting accusations of Islamophobia and an online backlash Wednesday, September 16.
A photo of Ahmed Mohamed, 14, standing in handcuffs while wearing a T-shirt with the US space agency NASA's logo was retweeted thousands of times.
Mohamed told The Dallas Morning News that he was just trying to impress his teachers when he brought the clock to MacArthur High school on Monday.
"My hobby is to invent stuff," he said in a video posted on the paper's website that was filmed in his electronics-filled bedroom.
"I made a clock. It was really easy. I wanted to show something small at first... they took it wrong so I was arrested for a hoax bomb."
Mohamed, who had loved robotics club in middle school and was hoping to find something similar in high school, said he didn't get the reaction he was looking for when he showed the clock to his engineering teacher.
"He was like, 'That’s really nice,'" Mohamed said. "'I would advise you not to show any other teachers.'"
But the alarm went off during his English class, and his teacher told him it looked like a bomb and confiscated the clock.
The school called the police and Mohamed was taken away in handcuffs amid suspicion that he intended to frighten people with the device.
The aspiring inventor, who lives in Irving just outside Dallas, said police would not let him call his parents during a lengthy interrogation. Once released, he was suspended from school for 3 days.
Police said that they have determined that Mohamed had no malicious intent and it was "just a naive set of circumstances."
"We're not going to pursue this any further," Irving police chief Larry Bond told reporters.
For people online, however, what happened was unacceptable. In a matter of hours "#IStandWithAhmed" became the top trending hashtag on Twitter.
Netizens were angry at the way the young inventor was treated.
White kid makes a nuclear reactor? He's a genius. Brown Muslim kid makes a clock? A terrorist #IStandWithAhmed pic.twitter.com/fEwcq7tUsr — Farhan Khan Virk (@FarhanKVirk) September 16, 2015 If this looks like a bomb to you, then please ... don't touch technology. You are a stupid person. #IStandWithAhmed pic.twitter.com/Ur4pSQhovd — Nash (@Nash076) September 16, 2015
No less than US President Barack Obama and other leaders chimed in:
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. — President Obama (@POTUS) September 16, 2015 Assumptions and fear don't keep us safe—they hold us back. Ahmed, stay curious and keep building. https://t.co/ywrlHUw3g1 — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 16, 2015
To show solidarity, people started bringing clocks from home to work:
In solidarity with @IStandWithAhmed CAIR-Chicago staff brought our clocks to work too. #IStandWithAhmed pic.twitter.com/NK9CWhyfru — CAIR-Chicago (@cairchicago) September 16, 2015 Do I look dangerous yet? #IstandwithAhmed #ahmeding pic.twitter.com/15cAGd8Y7s — Ana Marie Cox (@anamariecox) September 16, 2015 Brought my clock to work today. #IStandWithAhmed #Solidarity pic.twitter.com/h4Jr0siF1A — Simran Jeet Singh (@SimranColumbia) September 16, 2015 My brave 8 year old Daughter made this. #IStandWithAhmed pic.twitter.com/QGeJKjkKJu — Hanif J. Williams (@HanifJWilliams) September 16, 2015 Watch out, it's a brown guy with a clock! #IStandWithAhmed @IStandWithAhmed pic.twitter.com/8lzzrEakoi — Tariq Khokhar (@tkb) September 16, 2015
Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg posted a message for Ahmed:
You’ve probably seen the story about Ahmed, the 14 year old student in Texas who built a clock and was arrested when he... Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Ahmed was wearing a NASA shirt when he was arrested. How cool is it that NASA astronauts and experts started asking him out via Twitter?
I just chatted briefly with Ahmed's father & sister. They are very appreciative of everyone's support. — Anil Dash (@anildash) September 16, 2015 Hey Ahmed, give me a call in a couple years. We could always use smart, curious & creative people. https://t.co/02a4feMrk5 — Bobak Ferdowsi (@tweetsoutloud) September 16, 2015 Hi @IStandWithAhmed! I'd love you to join us for our science show Generator in Toronto on 28 Oct. There's a ticket waiting for you. — Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) September 16, 2015 Anytime you wanna see Mars rovers Ahmed, let me know. #IStandWithAhmed — Imperator MARSiosa (@cirquelar) September 16, 2015 Hi @IStandWithAhmed, you’ve got a lot of friends at JPL, me included: https://t.co/Q773EBSTSH — Jesse Kriss (@jkriss) September 16, 2015 Ahmed, I'd be happy to show you how we drive the Opportunity rover. Come visit us at JPL any time. #IStandWithAhmed https://t.co/VtesUugxj3 — Mike Seibert (@mikeseibert) September 16, 2015 Infact, I think the whole of JPL would welcome Ahmed with open arms. #IStandWithAhmed https://t.co/9FU3ZlHkCi — Doug Ellison (@doug_ellison) September 16, 2015
He got an invite to Google Science Fair:
Hey Ahmed- we're saving a seat for you at this weekend's Google Science Fair...want to come? Bring your clock! #IStandwithAhmed — Google Science Fair (@googlescifair) September 16, 2015
While Twitter and Reddit offered him an internship:
How do I get in touch with Ahmed? We ( @reddit) wanna intro him to some of our friends in science (+ internship?) http://t.co/Bwgnbz179O — Alexis Ohanian (@alexisohanian) September 16, 2015 Hi @IStandWithAhmed, we building things at @twitter too. Would you consider interning with us? We'd love it — DM us! #IStandWithAhmed — Twitter (@twitter) September 16, 2015
Follow the hashtag here:
Mohamed's family launched a Twitter account Wednesday to thank his supporters using @IStandWithAhmed as his handle.
Thank you for your support! I really didn't think people would care about a muslim boy. #Thankyouforstandingwithme #IStandWithAhmed — Ahmed Mohamed (@IStandWithAhmed) September 16, 2015 Going to meet my lawyer. pic.twitter.com/YCxOOeOz3Z — Ahmed Mohamed (@IStandWithAhmed) September 16, 2015
What are your thoughts on the incident? – Rappler.com with reports from AFP