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I stand with Ahmed

Jesus H. Christ on a cracker.

This is a travesty

Ahmed Mohamed — who makes his own radios and repairs his own go-kart — hoped to impress his teachers when he brought a homemade clock to MacArthur High on Monday.

Instead, the school phoned police about Ahmed’s circuit-stuffed pencil case.

So the 14-year-old missed the student council meeting and took a trip in handcuffs to juvenile detention. His clock now sits in an evidence room. Police say they may yet charge him with making a hoax bomb — though they acknowledge he told everyone who would listen that it’s a clock.

In the meantime, Ahmed’s been suspended, his father is upset and the Council on American-Islamic Relations is once again eyeing claims of Islamophobia in Irving.

A box full of circuit boards sits at the foot of Ahmed’s small bed in central Irving. His door marks the border where the Mohamed family’s cramped but lavishly decorated house begins to look like the back room at RadioShack.

“Here in high school, none of the teachers know what I can do,” Ahmed said, fiddling with a cable while a soldering iron dangled from the shelf behind him.

He loved robotics club in middle school and was searching for a similar niche in his first few weeks of high school.

So he decided to do what he’s always done: He built something.

Ahmed’s clock was hardly his most elaborate creation. He said he threw it together in about 20 minutes before bedtime on Sunday: a circuit board and power supply wired to a digital display, all strapped inside a case with a tiger hologram on the front.

He showed it to his engineering teacher first thing Monday morning and didn’t get quite the reaction he’d hoped for.

“He was like, ‘That’s really nice,’” Ahmed said. “‘I would advise you not to show any other teachers.’”

He kept the clock inside his school bag in English class, but the teacher complained when the alarm beeped in the middle of a lesson. Ahmed brought his invention up to show her afterward.

“She was like, it looks like a bomb,” he said.

“I told her, ‘It doesn’t look like a bomb to me.’”

The teacher kept the clock. When the principal and a police officer pulled Ahmed out of sixth period, he suspected he wouldn’t get it back.

They led Ahmed into a room where four other police officers waited. He said an officer he’d never seen before leaned back in his chair and remarked: “Yup. That’s who I thought it was.”

Ahmed felt suddenly conscious of his brown skin and his name — one of the most common in the Muslim religion. But the police kept him busy with questions.

The bell rang at least twice, he said, while the officers searched his belongings and questioned his intentions. The principal threatened to expel him if he didn’t make a written statement, he said.

“They were like, ‘So you tried to make a bomb?’” Ahmed said.

“I told them no, I was trying to make a clock.”

“He said, ‘It looks like a movie bomb to me.’”

All that happened on Tuesday. Ahmed was subsequently arrested, handcuffed, walked through the school in handcuffs – that’s the picture above – fingerprinted, and finally released, with the cops eventually admitting that it was a clock, as he had been saying all along. Ahmed is now an Internet celebrity, and another example of how public officials like Irving’s Mayor who pander to fear and hate in the name of “security” do far more damage than good. And yeah, race and religion was a factor. Shame on everyone involved in this debacle, and good on you, Ahmed Mohammed, for being a kid who likes to build things. Keep on doing what you’re doing, and don’t let the turkeys get you down. TPM, Think Progress, Daily Kos, Kevin Drum, Slate, Vox, Wonkblog, Gawker, Mic, the Current, the Trib, the Observer, and Juanita have more.

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4 Comments

  1. Leah says:

    Beyond this awful example, kids – especially kids of color and girls – are too often discouraged from tinkering. Consider making a donation to a cool science project on DonorsChoose or to some of our local makers programs like Workshop Houston. I had to to quell my anger.

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    You would think the brain trust at the high school would have been able to ascertain that this was indeed a clock, not a bomb. What part of the clock was supposed to blow up? Why wasn’t the engineering teacher consulted about this, prior to having the kid arrested? That teacher seemed to get it…..he knew it wasn’t a bomb, but figured other folks wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

  3. brad m says:

    I wonder why the rest of our country thinks Texans are backwards *** morons?

    Thanks Irving.