A Muslim teenager arrested after a
US President Barack Obama congratulated Ahmed Mohamed, 14, on his skills in a pointed rebuke to school and police officials - who defended his arrest - amid accusations of Islamophobia.
A photo of Ahmed standing in handcuffs while wearing a t-shirt with the
Ahmed told the Dallas Morning News he had hoped to impress teachers by bringing the clock to school on Monday.
"My hobby is to invent stuff,” the teen said in a video posted on the paper’s website, filmed in his electronics-filled bedroom.
"I made a clock. It was really easy. I wanted to show something small at first... they took it wrong so I was arrested for a hoax bomb."
"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
The son of Sudanese immigrants who live in a
"He was like, 'That’s really nice, I would advise you not to show any other teachers.” Ahmed said.
When the clock’s alarm went off in another class, the teacher told him it looked like a bomb and confiscated it. The school called police and Ahmed was taken away in cuffs amid suspicion he intended to frighten people with the device.
Police said on Wednesday they had determined that Ahmed had no malicious intent and it was “just a naive set of circumstances.”
"Our reaction would have been the same either way. That's a very suspicious device," Boyd told reporters. "We live in an age where you can't take things like that to school."
A school district spokeswoman also stood by the establishment's response, telling reporters that anyone who saw the homemade clock would understand that "we were doing everything with an abundance of caution."
"My son is a very brilliant boy," Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed - who has run for president in
White House spokesman Josh Earnest called the incident an opportunity to "search our own conscious for biases that might be there."
"At least some of Ahmed's teachers failed him," he said, adding that "this has the potential to be a teachable moment."
The Council on American-Islamic Relations said the heavy-handed response was suspicious given the political climate in
"Clearly we believe it's the result of the rising level of anti-Muslim sentiment in our society," CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said.
"It's clear that if it was some student who wasn’t named Ahmed Mohamed and didn’t have brown skin, he would not have been forced to do a perp walk in front of his fellow students in handcuffs.”
Wired magazine was among those who responded to the incident with a mixture of humor and horror, posting an article entitled How to Make Your Own Homemade Clock That Isn’t a Bomb.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg told Mohamed to "keep building,"
"I'd love to meet you." - Zuckerberg
Along with the invitation to astronomy night at the White House next month, Mohamed also got invitations to drive Nasa’s
"Hey Ahmed - we’re saving a seat for you at this weekend’s Google Science Fair...want to come? Bring your clock!” the online giant tweeted.
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield invited Mohamed to his science variety show, and the Four Seasons hotel responded with an offer of a free room in
"Bring your clock." - Google Science
Mohamed's family launched a Twitter account to thank his supporters using #IStandWithAhmed as his handle.
"Thank you fellow supporters. We can band together to stop this racial inequality and prevent this from happening again,” read a tweet that included a photo of the smiling boy in his Nasa t-shirt holding two fingers up in the sign of victory.
#IStandWithAhmed had been tweeted more than 800,000 times by Wednesday afternoon, according to analytics site Topsy.com.