Cuffed for a Clock

by Lisa Li

      Circuit boards, wires, and soldering irons clutter the room turned workspace of Ahmed Mohamed, a high school freshman who found himself arrested after bringing an electronic device he created to school. Mistaking it for the infrastructure of a bomb, an English teacher confiscated the device, claiming that it looked suspicious in nature, despite the teen’s insistence that it was a clock.

     This is not the first invention of Mohamed’s, who has previously won awards for his work. He has also been known to repair go carts and make radios.

     “He fixed my phone, my car, my computer,” Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed said in a quote used by the Dallas News. “He is a very smart, brilliant kid.”

     Perhaps the device’s appearance gave way to caution, but did his religion have anything to do with the arrest? Mohamed told anyone who would listen that he’d created a clock, however, racial and religious prejudice identifies as a possible factor in his arrest. If the school is supposedly so adamant on keeping its students safe, why didn’t they evacuate the school at a bomb threat?

     Beth Van Duyne, Mayor of Irving, Texas posted a Facebook statement regarding the arrest, “To the best of my knowledge, they followed the protocol for investigating whether this was an attempt to bring a hoax bomb to a school campus.”

     This post was screenshotted along with the tweet, “Not a word of sympathy from the town mayor to the kid who was arrested for building a clock or his family,” by Adam Serwer, national editor at Buzzfeed News.

     Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and many more outlets garner posts of support from all over the nation. Tagged to #IStandWithAhmed, his supporters believe that he was targeted because of his religious and racial identity.

     One such tweet, from @faisalkutty reads, “If it looks like a clock, ticks like a clock, is a clock but your name is Mohamed then it’s a bomb #IStandWithAhmed.”

     Many assert the point that because his name is Ahmed Mohamed, he is labeled as a terrorist, not genius. This kind of racial injustice is problematic because people are using his name as a point of discrimination.

     “Talent is suppressed by bigotry,” tweets @SyedSaddiq. “Islamophobia is a cancerous tumor which hurts us all. #IStandWithAhmed.”

     The LA Times reports, “This week, brown children across America learned a lesson: If you try to be like Steve Jobs, you could get arrested.”

     Innovation is what makes this country great and continues to further our society. If it is suppressed, we will be nowhere.

     However, not all support Mohamed.

     Fox News reported that Ahmed Mohamed is “not as innocent as he seems”, previously known to “rack up suspensions”. They informed that he received a suspension for getting caught blowing soap bubbles. Talk about being a real troublemaker. His seventh grade teacher calls him a “weird little kid” who could either be the “CEO of a company or head of a gang”. Kooiman uses this as a point to discuss his “difficulties with authority figures”.

     The Fox newscaster, Ann Kooiman, is currently under fire for reporting this. She allegedly had “concerns about his wild life of crime”.

     First he blows soap bubbles, then he builds a clock, what next? Will he get detention for having an elaborate lunch?

     Mohamed was suspended for three days subsequently following his arrest. He felt anger toward the arrest, not knowing why he was there.

     “I felt like a terrorist,” says Mohamed to MSNBC news in an interview concerning what he thought about the situation.

     Mohamed began receiving a series of academic and visitation offers from people and places such as NASA, Mark Zuckerberg, and Google. An invitation was even extended from the White House for Mohamed to visit.

     “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,” reads a tweet from @POTUS.

     “Don’t let people change who you are,” Mohamed advises. “Even if you get a consequence for it. I’d suggest you still show it to people because you need to show them your talent.”