A 14-year-old Muslim boy in the US was arrested, suspended from school and may face charges of making a hoax bomb after he took a homemade clock to school that his teachers thought looked like an explosive device, triggering fears of Islamophobia.
Ninth-grader Ahmed Mohamed from Irving in Texas – who makes his own radios and repairs his own go-kart — had hoped to impress his teachers when he brought his homemade clock to show his engineering teacher.
He, however, did not get the reaction he had hoped for.
Ahmed’s sister told me to post this. Yes this situation is real for those questioning. pic.twitter.com/Oxd0JxUS6O
— Prajwol/Ru (@OfficalPrajwol) September 16, 2015
“He (the teacher) was like, ‘That’s really nice,'” The Dallas Morning News reported today, quoting the teen. “I would advise you not to show any other teachers.”
Mohamed kept the clock inside his school bag in English class but the teacher complained when the alarm beeped in the middle of a lesson following which he brought his invention up to show her afterwards.
“She was like, it looks like a bomb,” he said about the clock he created in barely 20 minutes – a circuit board and power supply wired to a digital display, all strapped inside a case with a tiger hologram on the front.
“I told her, It doesn’t look like a bomb to me.”
The teacher kept the clock with her and when the principal of the school – MacArthur High – and a police officer took Mohamed out of the sixth period, he suspected he would not get it back.
Mohamed said they led him into a room where four other police officers were waiting. He said an officer he had never seen before leaned back in his chair and remarked: “Yup. That’s who I thought it was.”
Ahmed felt suddenly conscious of his brown skin and his name — one of the most common in the Muslim religion. But the police kept him busy with questions, the report said.
The bell rang at least twice, he said, while the officers searched his belongings and questioned his intentions. The principal threatened to expel him if he did not make a written statement, he said.
His clock now sits in an evidence room while he was handcuffed and taken to a juvenile detention centre where he had his fingerprints taken.
He has also been suspended from school.
Police say they may charge him with making a hoax bomb though they acknowledge he told everyone who would listen that it is a clock.
The teen’s father Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, who immigrated from Sudan, said that “because his name is Mohamed and because of September 11, I think my son got mistreated”.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations took note of the incident. “We’re still investigating but it seems pretty egregious,” said Alia Salem, who directs the council’s North Texas chapter.