A homemade clock made by Ahmed Mohamed, 14, is seen in an undated picture released by the Irving Texas Police Department September 16, 2015. Mohamed was taken away from school in handcuffs after he brought the clock to his Dallas-area school this week and the staff mistook it for a bomb, police said on Wednesday. REUTERS/Irving Texas Police Department/Handout via Reuters
CAIRO – A Texas Muslim student, who wanted to impress his teachers with his homemade clock, was arrested by Dallas police after his school claimed that he tried to make a bomb. “She was like, it looks like a bomb,” student Ahmed Mohamed, from Irving, Texas, told the Dallas Morning News on Tuesday, September 15.
“I told her, ‘It doesn’t look like a bomb to me.”
The 14-year-old student was explaining how his homemade clock was mistaken for a bomb when the alarm beeped in the middle of a lesson at MacArthur High school in Irving.
The Muslim student hoped to impress his teachers by one of his most elaborate creations that consists of a circuit board and power supply wired to a digital display, all strapped inside a case with a tiger hologram on the front.
However, Mohamed was disappointed as he didn’t get the reaction he hoped for, after showing his clock to the engineering teacher.
“He was like, ‘That’s really nice,’” Mohamed said.
“‘I would advise you not to show any other teachers.’”
Mohamed’s clock was confiscated during his English lesson when its alarm kept beeping.
The English teacher and the principal reported their skepticism to police who arrested Mohamed after pulling him out of sixth period.
At the police station, the Muslim teen was interrogated by four police officers.
“Yup. That’s who I thought it was,” one of the officers, who Mohamed had never seen before told him.
“I tried making a phone call to my father. They said, ‘you’re in the middle of an interrogation, you can’t have a phone call,’” Mohamed told NBC.
“I really don’t think it’s fair because I brought something to school that wasn’t a threat to anyone. I didn’t do anything wrong. I just showed my teachers something and I end up being arrested later that day.”
Commenting on the case, police spokesman James McLellan said that they have no reason to think Mohamed’s homemade clock was “dangerous”.
“We have no information that he claimed it was a bomb,” McLellan said.
“He kept maintaining it was a clock, but there was no broader explanation.”
The student’s father, who encouraged him to demonstrate his gift for technology, said that he was shocked by incident that came a week after the 14th anniversary of 9/11 deadly attacks. “He just wants to invent good things for mankind,” said Ahmed’s father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, who immigrated from Sudan and occasionally returns there to run for president. “But because his name is Mohamed and because of Sept. 11, I think my son got mistreated.”
Condemning the discrimination against the Muslim student, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said that it will be investigating the issue.
“This all raises a red flag for us: how Irving’s government entities are operating in the current climate,” said Alia Salem, who directs the council’s North Texas chapter and has spoken to lawyers about Ahmed’s arrest.
“We’re still investigating,” she said, “but it seems pretty egregious.”
The arrest and the suspension of the Muslim student have sparked anger among social media users who lamented injustice and discrimination.
“I bet they wouldn’t have arrested the student if he was a different race/religion … it was really his name that made it a crime, though,” one Facebook user wrote.
Another said: “I couldn’t believe a teacher would be so stupid to do that to a child and shame his life like that in front of millions of people shame on the teacher. Racism needs to stop.” #IStandWithAhmed, was also launched to show solidarity with the Islamophobia victim.
Suspended for three days from his school, Mohamed vowed never to take an invention to school again.
“They thought, ‘How could someone like this build something like this unless it’s a threat?’ he said.
Editor’s note: US President Barack Obama has invited Ahmed Mohamed to visit him at the White House.