IRVING: A Muslim Sudanese teenager in Texas was arrested Monday for bringing a home-made clock to school amid suspicions that he had created a 'hoax bomb', the Dallas Morning News reported.
Ahmed Mohamed, a high-school student residing in Irving, Texas, was hoping to find a niche for himself at his new high school, after having been a member of a robotics club at his previous middle school.
He built a home-made clock which he took to school to show to his engineering teacher who, after taking a look at Ahmed's creation, advised him not to show it to any other teachers.
When his clock's alarm went off during another class, his teacher took notice of the invention. Ahmed showed it to her after class, explaining it was a clock.
"She was like, it looks like a bomb," Ahmed said, adding "I told her, ‘It doesn’t look like a bomb to me.’"
The teacher confiscated the clock and Ahmed was then pulled out of class by the school principal and a police officer.
Ahmed was interrogated by four police officers, one of whom he claims said, "Yup. That's who I thought it was," upon seeing the high-schooler.
The principal threatened to expel him if he didn't make a written statement, he said.
The police asked if he was trying to make a bomb, to which he replied he was making a clock.
Meanwhile, police spokesman James McLellan said: "We have no information that he claimed it was a bomb...he kept maintaining it was a clock, but there was no broader explanation.”
The spokesman said "it could reasonably be mistaken as a device if left in a bathroom or under a car", adding that the concern was, "what was this thing built for? Do we take him into custody?”
Ahmed was handcuffed as he was escorted off school premises by police and kept in a juvenile detention centre, where his fingerprints were taken.
Following the incident, Ahmed has vowed never to take an invention to school again. The school principal suspended him for three days.
Reaction on social media
As soon as the news broke, people on social media started trending in favour of Ahmed, calling the incident, as well as the boy's treatment by the police 'discriminatory', 'racist' and 'Islamophobic'.
Wajahat Ali,a writer who works for Al Jazeera US, in a series of tweets, not only appreciated the young inventor but also suggested that the school principal should replace the clock in her office with the one Ahmed invented.
He also questioned the double standards of appreciating other students when they show interest in robotics while doing the exact opposite if the student was a Muslim boy.
Emmy Award winner, US television personality Montel Williams too condemned the incident on Facebook, saying it made him 'furious' how Ahmed was led out of school handcuffed just because of his interest in inventing things and robotics.
Williams opined that the school should apologise for the treatment meted out to Ahmed and his passion should instead be encouraged.
Technology enthusiast, entrepreneur and blogging pioneer Anil Dash shared one of Ahmed’s photos in which the young inventor was wearing a NASA shirt, claiming the teenager’s sister had asked him to share it.