In news that makes us want to hang our heads and weep for humanity, a Muslim teen from Texas was arrested on Monday for bringing a bomb to school.
Except he didn’t bring a bomb to school, not even close.
According to The Dallas Morning News, Ahmed Mohamed, a brilliant teen who aspires to become an engineer, had made a digital clock out of a pencil case. (Yeah. You read that right.) The 14-year-old MacArthur High School freshman enjoys inventing things in his spare time, and had recently made the clock at home. When he brought it in to school to show his teacher, he had no idea the trouble it would lead to — or how famous he would soon become.
After showing the clock to an English teacher, it was soon confiscated. Not only that, but school officials called the police and interrogated the teen — who tried (and failed) to convince them that it was just a clock. Eventually he was handcuffed and taken to a juvenile detention center before being released later to his parents.
At a press conference this morning, Irving Police Chief Larry Boyd announced that charges won’t be filed against Ahmed:
“The follow-up investigation revealed the device apparently was a homemade experiment, and there’s no evidence to support the perception he intended to create alarm.”
After his release, Ahmed’s older sisters Eyman and Ayisha started the Twitter account @IStandWithAhmed, quickly amassing 26k followers (and growing). #IStandWithAhmed is now trending, with support flooding in from all over the world — including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who encouraged him to “keep building:”
And even President Obama, who invited him (and his clock) to the White House:
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
While Boyd assured the media that he has an “outstanding relationship” with the Muslim community in Irving, many have questioned whether the situation would have been handled the same had Ahmed not been Muslim.
Officials insist, however, that their response was precautionary. With Boyd telling the media that “we live in an age where you can’t take things like that to school … we have to err on the side of caution.”
Irving ISD spokeswoman Lesley Weaver added that the school is “doing everything with an abundance of caution to protect all of our students in Irving.”
And while we wholeheartedly agree that students should be protected, that no child should have to worry about a bomb being brought to school, there is a difference between being cautious and racially profiling a child. We find it hard to fathom that a boy who came to school in a NASA T-shirt, brimming with excitement to show his teachers what he created in his spare time, seemed like a likely candidate for terrorism.
If you take a minute to look beyond the color of his skin and the culture he was born into, you would see a boy eager to learn; a boy who has done something incredible at such a young age; a boy who will one day, we have no doubt, go on to do more great things.
And to all the teachers and police officers and Internet trolls out there who doubt him, we ask you this:
Could you build a digital clock from a pencil case?
We didn’t think so.