Ahmed Mohamed, 14, had thought that he had achieved something that would garner praise at at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas. He had made a homemade digital clock from a pencil case. Instead, teachers called police and Ahmed was interrogated and taken to the police station on suspicion of a bomb hoax. UPDATE: some critics have expressed doubt over the clock as well as the narrative.
The teen, who wants to go to MIT, was a robotics club member and won awards for his inventions. He said that he actually showed it to one teacher who said it was impressive but recommended that he not show it to people at the school. Then it beeped in class and he showed the source of the noise.
Ahmed’s English teacher thought the clock was a bomb and that triggered a bizarre response of multiple teachers and police who took Ahmed into custody without any evidence supporting the allegation of a bomb. He said that was pulled out of class and taken to a room with four police officers. He said that one immediately said “Yup. That’s who I thought it was.” Another said to him, “So you tried to make a bomb?” He said that he kept saying it was a clock.
Irving Police spokesman Officer James McLellan insisted “We attempted to question the juvenile about what it was and he would simply only tell us that it was a clock.”
Well, that was probably because it was a clock Officer McLellan.
Chief Larry Boyd added that Ahmed should have been “forthcoming” by going beyond the description that what he made was a clock. Like what? I can only think of two relevant points. One it is a clock. Two it is not a bomb.
What he did allegedly say is that he wanted to speak with his parents, but that was allegedly one thing that the police did not want to hear. He was held without a lawyer or speaking with his parents according to reports.
Ahmed’s father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, reportedly came to his country after fighting for greater freedoms in Sudan where he twice ran for the presidency. He would find his son “surrounded by five police and . . . handcuffed.” He also learned that the police had denied him the right to call his parents by saying that they had not technically put him under arrest.
His family have questioned whether he would have been treated the same way if his name were not Mohamed and was Muslim.
Thousands have rallied around Ahmed under the hashtag “#IstandwithAhmed.” They include Nasa scientists who noticed he was wearing a NASA teeshirt as well as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Even President Barack Obama, tweeted to Ahmed: “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.”