It began with a clock.
14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed, a freshman at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas, brought a homemade clock that he’d built that weekend to school on Tuesday. According to The Washington Post, Mohamed was known for his handiwork around electronics and built radios in his spare time. He brought the clock to show to his teachers, whom he’d just met weeks ago as a new student.
He ended up in handcuffs, a result of his English teacher confiscating the clock that “looked like a bomb.” He was interrogated by five police officers, who tried to coerce him into saying that he tried to build a bomb. Mohamed has since been released without any charges for building what the police call a “hoax bomb.”
But that is just the beginning.
Since hearing of Mohamed’s story, Twitter has been set ablaze with the hashtag #IStandWithAhmed. There have been more than 350,000 tweets, from entrepreneur Anil Dash to TV personality Grant Imahara to even Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Some have claimed that Mohamed’s clock would not have gotten attention if he wasn’t also Middle Eastern. Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne has been involved in contentious fights with the city’s own growing Islamic and Middle Eastern population, accusing the religious Islamic leaders of creating “separate laws” and “bypassing American courts.”
Critics have said her comments have fueled the undercurrents of Islamophobia in the community, galvanizing a group who believes vehemently in an impending invasion of America by Islam.
Others have claimed that a passion for Science beyond his years — amid a group of peers and teachers who don’t understand his talents — led to the arrest. The vocal outreach of students at MIT and employees at NASA who have supported Mohamed’s cause have drawn the conclusion that Mohamed’s passion for hardware, and his natural curiosity, were unfairly punished with an arrest.
— Bobak Ferdowsi (@tweetsoutloud) September 16, 2015
Mohamed is currently not facing charges, and has not faced any further punishment from MacArthur school or the Irving Independent School District. In a statement released to parents, which did neither mentioned Mohamed nor included an apology, MacArthur High School principal Dan Cummings said: “Our school is cooperating fully with the ongoing police investigation, and we are handling the situation in accordance with the Irving ISD Student Code of Conduct and applicable laws.”
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