A Texas teen was arrested after the homemade clock he brought into class was mistaken for a "hoax bomb," and the Internet is fuming about it.
Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old Muslim student at MacArthur High School in Irving, made a clock out of a pencil case, and on Monday, he brought it into school to show his teachers. Rather than be praised for his efforts, the cops were called on him, as one of his teachers believed the device was suspicious and could be the infrastructure for a bomb.
"They arrested me and told me I committed a crime of a hoax bomb -- a fake bomb," he told local news station WFAA.
I expect they will have more to say tomorrow, but Ahmed's sister asked me to share this photo. A NASA shirt! pic.twitter.com/nR4gt992gB— Anil Dash (@anildash) September 16, 2015
Mohamed literally told them what he had created when he was questioned. "School resource officers questioned the student about his intentions and the reasons why he brought the device to school," Public Information Officer James McLellan wrote in a statement on behalf of the Irving Police Department. "The student would only say it was a clock and was not forthcoming at that time about other details."
Ultimately, no charges were filed, but Mohamed was suspended from school for three days. In a press conference held in conjunction with the Irving Independent School District, Chief Larry Boyd said Mohamed should have been "forthcoming" with more of a description, as the device was "certainly suspicious in nature."
Though, admittedly, the clock didn't look like a typical time keeper, how does one get more forthcoming than the actual description of the object?
The Irving Independent School District explained on Wednesday that they "will always take necessary precautions to protect our students and keep our school community as safe as possible."
"Unfortunately, the information that has been made public to this point is very unbalanced," they wrote in a statement posted to the district's website. "We would provide additional factual information about the situation; however, we feel it's important to protect the student's right to privacy and we will abide by FERPA, the federal law that protects student information. If the family grants us written permission to release information, we will be happy to provide additional facts to the media at that time."
Mohamed's story has gone viral, and social media is none too happy about the incident that many claim is racial profiling. The hashtag #IStandWithAhmed has been making the rounds, and he's received some pretty amazing responses since the incident occurred. The coolest of all has to be a tweet from President Barack Obama.
"Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House?" POTUS wrote on Wednesday. "We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It's what makes America great."
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.— President Obama (@POTUS) September 16, 2015
If only Mohamed's teachers had been as proud as the president was.
The incident has also scored Mohamed, who hopes to become an engineer, a scholarship to Space Camp USA at The U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
Creative minds are always welcome at Space Camp, and we appreciate donors who help them come. Someone has provided a scholarship for Ahmed.— SpaceCampUSA (@SpaceCampUSA) September 16, 2015
No one seems more surprised about the outpouring of love than the teen himself. Mohamed started a Twitter account Wednesday morning, embracing the #IStandWithAhmed hashtag by making it his username, and he already has over 43,000 followers.
"Thank you for your support! I really didn't think people would care about a muslim boy. #Thankyouforstandingwithme #IStandWithAhmed," he tweeted. "We can ban together to stop this racial inequality and prevent this from happening again."
Thank you fellow supporters. We can ban together to stop this racial inequality and prevent this from happening again pic.twitter.com/fBlmckoafU— Ahmed Mohamed (@IStandWithAhmed) September 16, 2015
Just how grateful is Mohamed and his family? His father offered pizza to reporters waiting in front of their home. PIZZA! Because this may be the smartest, most supportive family ever.
In addition to Obama, many government officials and celebrities have sung their praises for the young inventor, including Mark Zuckerberg. "Having the skill and ambition to build something cool should lead to applause, not arrest. The future belongs to people like Ahmed," the Facebook CEO wrote on his public profile. "Ahmed, if you ever want to come by Facebook, I'd love to meet you. Keep building."
Presidential hopeful Hilary Clinton was equally as encouraging. "Assumptions and fear don't keep us safe—they hold us back. Ahmed, stay curious and keep building," she tweeted.
Assumptions and fear don't keep us safe—they hold us back. Ahmed, stay curious and keep building. https://t.co/ywrlHUw3g1— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 16, 2015
See even more tweets from Mohamed's famous supporters below.
Seeing that kid in his NASA shirt being handcuffed for an invention he is proud of is so heartbreaking. #IStandWithAhmed— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) September 16, 2015
#IStandWithAhmed cause I was once a brown kid in the south too. Plus sure he'll lead an amazing life & I'm trying to get in the bio pic game— Aziz Ansari (@azizansari) September 16, 2015
But was Ahmed building a BLACK clock? #IStandWithAhmed— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) September 16, 2015
We need to be encouraging young engineers, not putting them in handcuffs. #IStandWithAhmed— Arne Duncan (@arneduncan) September 16, 2015
When my brother was a teenager he built an oscilloscope and no one thought he was a terrorist. Or even a communist. #IStandWithAhmed— Judy Blume (@judyblume) September 16, 2015
It is heartening to see the scientific community reach out to him, though. #IStandWithAhmed— Mara Wilson (@MaraWritesStuff) September 16, 2015
I want to live the rest of my life with a president who knows to say "Cool clock, Ahmed". #IStandWithAhmed— Guy Branum (@guybranum) September 16, 2015