A ninth grade Texas student — eager to show his engineering teacher what he could do — brought a homemade clock to school. Unfortunately, that student happens to have brown skin and be named Ahmed Mohamed. So instead of the school seeing a young genius who is eager to learn and absolutely excelling at engineering, they saw a danger. Police were notified and Ahmed left the school in handcuffs.
He left the school in handcuffs. For bringing in a homemade clock. Here is an image of him in the police station — NASA shirt and all:
The look of confusion and horror on his face is heartbreaking — and it represents what happens when Islamophobia becomes not only accepted by society, but embraced.
Mohamed was new to the Texas school. He loves engineering and building things — he makes his own radios and repairs his own go-kart. But Monday this week he was arrested because his teacher, administrators, and local police didn’t believe him when he told them he was just “trying to make a clock.” He told the Dallas News that when police officers walked into the principal’s office where he was being held, an officer he’s never seen before said, “Yup. That’s who I thought it was.”
He was then escorted off campus, held in a juvenile detention center, and suspended for three days. All because he built a clock to show his engineering teacher who warned him “that’s really nice… you shouldn’t show any other teachers.” The clocked beeped while in his bag in English class, and his English teacher accused him of having a bomb. I guess his engineering teacher was right.
The Washington Post reports, “During questioning, officers repeatedly brought up his last name, Mohamed said. When he tried to call his father, Mohamed said he was told he couldn’t speak to his parents until after the interrogation was over.” When asked why the boy wasn’t allowed to call his parents until questioning was over, the police chief said he “did not have answers” to that specific question.
What should have been a moment of pride turned into a day of horror – and a three day suspension that still hasn’t been explained – to Mohamed’s family anyway. The rest of the families at the school were sent a letter detailing how they all really don’t need to worry about the new boy at school:
“While we do not have any threats to our school community, we want you to be aware that the Irving Police Department responded to a suspicious-looking item on campus yesterday. We are pleased to report that after the police department’s assessment, the item discovered at school did not pose a threat to your child’s safety. 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. Please rest assured that we will always take necessary steps to keep our school as safe as possible.”
Ahmed’s father told the Dallas Morning News, “He just wants to invent good things for mankind. But because his name is Mohamed and because of Sept. 11, I think my son got mistreated.”
A hashtag is circulating on Twitter in support of Mohamed (#IStandWithAhmed), and many recognizable faces are weighing in, including Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO:
The President himself even had something to say: