On September 14, Ahmed Mohamed of Irving, Texas brought a clock he built to his high school and was arrested for “making a bomb.” Police put the 14-year-old teen in handcuffs after his English teacher saw the homemade device and reported him to school officials.
“She thought it was a threat to her,” Ahmed said about his English teacher’s reaction. “So it was really sad that she took a wrong impression of it.”
Ahmed is fond of exploring and creating with technology. He hopes to go to M.I.T. and to appear on the TV show “Shark Tank” one day with his inventions. Building a bomb is nowhere close to this ambitious teen’s mind, and yet, it was under this very accusation that he was detained. Ahmed even says that when police officers were called in, one looked at him and said “Yup. That’s who I thought it was.” Questions on religious targeting immediately arose, and within a couple of days, Ahmed had received all sorts of responses, many of which were positive.
Both Mark Zuckerberg and Hillary Clinton posted their support, and President Barack Obama himself invited Ahmed to the White House. “Cool clock, Ahmed,” Obama tweeted. “Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great.”
However, some believe that Ahmed’s creation really does look like a bomb, and that the school was right to take precautions with an unknown, suspicious device. Among them is Bill Maher, who claims that Ahmed is not an inventor or a genius, and that he is being blown far out of proportion.
“He didn’t invent a clock. He took the guts out of a clock radio that he bought in the store and then put it in a pencil box. Okay, this is like pouring Cheerios into a bowl and saying you invented cereal,” Maher said. “And made it look like a bomb.”
Others go as far as to say that this entire story is a conspiracy, and that Ahmed is actually a bomber who will soon be unwisely allowed into the White House. Ahmed’s father says that the teen is trying to “just stay positive” and not allow negative responses affect him. Groups of engineers and others in the tech industry have rallied behind Ahmed, encouraging him to continue exploring and creating without fear.
The incident has sparked outrage globally, which has considerably helped raise awareness regarding injustices related to Islamophobia. It is an issue impossible to ignore when it causes an innovative teen to be questioned without a lawyer present over a mere clock. Furthermore, those questioning Ahmed did not even believe him, refusing to accept his answer that it was a clock. They still have not returned his creation. If this is America’s response to intellectual creativity in children of Middle Eastern descent, then there is surely much to improve on.
As of now, Ahmed is not sure if he wants to return to his high school, but he isn’t discouraged.
Says Ahmed: “Don’t let people change who you are.”
-By Michelle Quin ’19
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