I’m going to be honest. I’ve used this idea before. About 20 years ago actually and it’s even in my book (yes, I have a book. A very outdated book). I might have used it again since then but I can’t remember.
Ahmed Mohamed is a very creative and inventive 14-year-old freshman in Irving, Texas. Ahmed made a clock. Ahmed took his clock to school. Ahmed was arrested for taking a clock to school. Did I mention his name is “Ahmed” and this happened in Texas? You know Texas, that place where white guys walk around with AR-15s strapped to their backs as they shop at Walmart, but a clock looks scary. A clock in the hands of a Muslim.
So Ahmed takes his homemade clock to school. A teacher asks him if it’s a bomb. Ahmed says no. Case closed, right? No. Later he’s taken to a room with the principal and several police officers who question him for a couple of hours. Though the clock is not a bomb, and he says it’s a clock and not a hoax, Ahmed is arrested. He’s handcuffed, taken to jail, finger printed and has his mugshot taken. At some point they inform his parents.
Ahmed was suspended from school for three days. The police eventually dropped the charges (whatever they were. Brown with a clock in Texas?) but Ahmed is still suspended from school.
The Irving police chief stated the officers were justified in detaining the teenager based on the information they had at the time, when initially it was “not immediately evident that” Ahmed’s clock was a class experiment. He added, however, that the police had “no evidence to support that there was an intention to create an alarm.” Asked whether the police would have reacted differently if Ahmed had been white, Chief Boyd said they would have followed the same procedures. Yeah I’m sure. A lot of white kids have made clocks and brought them to school but I can’t recall one ever being arrested for it.
The school’s principal sent a letter to parents stating police had responded to a “suspicious-looking item on campus.”
The city’s mayor, Beth Van Duyne, has a history of Islamophobia. In the past she’s accused a Muslim group in the city of trying to create an anti-American court of Sharia Law in the city. Regarding this situation with Ahmed and his clock she wrote on Facebook that she did not fault the school or the police “for looking into what they saw as a potential threat.”
Some positives have come of this. Hillary Clinton voiced support as did Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Twitter has offered him an internship (hey, come work for free). Best of all, President Obama tweeted support and invited him to visit the White House with his clock, which is still in police possession.
He’s accepted the president’s invitation and he will visit the White House for Astronomy Night on Oct. 19, which is an event bringing together scientists, engineers, astronauts, teachers and students to spend a night stargazing from the South Lawn.
Ahmed has a very bright future. Of course he’s still Muslim with a Muslim name in Texas.
Good luck, Ahmed!