Teen's homemade clock alarms school, gets him arrested - and invited to the White House

Teen's homemade clock alarms school, gets him arrested - and invited to the White House

Normally, bringing a cool piece of home-made engineering gets you a smile from the teacher, but not in Texas

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Irving MacArthur High School student Ahmed Mohamed, 14, poses for a photo at his home in Irving, Texas, on Tuesday.
Photo: Tribune News Services

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Israa Abdellah, 17, a student at Jack E. Singley Academy in Irving, Texas, holds a sign in support of Ahmed.
Photo: AFP

A Muslim teenager arrested after a Texas  teacher mistook his homemade clock for a bomb won invitations to the White  House, Google and Facebook yesterday in a surge of public support.

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  US space agency NASA’s logo was retweeted thousands of times in a matter of  hours and #IStandWithAhmed became the top trending hashtag on Twitter.

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 America great." - Obama

 

The son of Sudanese immigrants who live in a Dallas suburb, Ahmed loved  robotics club in middle school and was hoping to find something similar at  MacArthurHigh School. He did not get the reaction he hoped for when he showed  the clock to his engineering teacher.

"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.”

Irving police chief Larry Boyd insisted that Ahmed’s ethnicity had  nothing to do with the response.

"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."

The scary clock.
Photo: AFP PHOTO / IRVING POLICE DEPARTMENT

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 Sudan - told CNN.

 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 Irving - where mayor Beth Van  Duyne has claimed that Muslims are plotting to impose Sharia law - and across  the nation.

"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 Opportunity rover, tour MIT,  intern at Twitter and visit Google.

"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  Toronto.

 

"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.

 

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