US President Barack Obama has invited a 14-year-old Muslim boy from Texas to the White House after he was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school. Police said it could have been mistaken for an explosive.
The US president praised Ahmed Mohamed on Twitter late on Wednesday, after Ahmed’s story spread across the internet.
“Cool clock, Ahmed,” the president wrote. “Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great.”
Facebook founder Marck Zuckerberg also told the Texan to “keep building.”
“I would love to meet you,” he told Ahmed.
‘It looks like a bomb’
Ahmed, a teenager who enjoys playing around with electronics, took a clock he made at home to his school, MacArthur High, on Monday, expecting his engineering teacher to be impressed. Instead, the teacher advised him not to show his invention to any other teachers.
The teenager kept his clock in a bag during English class, but the teacher complained when the alarm beeped in the middle of the lesson. When he showed his invention to her, “She was like, it looks like a bomb,” Ahmed said. The teacher kept the clock, and Ahmed was later taken away by the principal and a police officer.
“They interrogated me and searched through my stuff and took my tablet and my invention and later I was taken to a juvenile detention center, where they searched me, took my fingerprints and mugshots of me and they searched me until my parents came,” Ahmed told the “Dallas Morning News” paper.
‘I felt like a criminal’
Police did not believe the device was dangerous, but said it could be mistaken for a fake explosive. Ahmed has been suspended for three days from school, but no charges have been filed against him. Local police spokesman James McLellan said his team didn’t believe Ahmed was telling them the whole story.
Ahmed said police were charging him for making a “movie bomb.” “It didn’t make me feel like I was human. It made me feel like I was a criminal,” the schoolboy told Dallas News.
Social media support
His father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, who immigrated from Sudan, said about his son, “He just wants to invent good things for mankind…but because his name is Mohamed, I think my son got mistreated.”
Meanwhile, support has been pouring in for the 14-year-old on Twitter. A photo of Ahmed in handcuffs was retweeted thousands of times within a matter of hours. Hashtag #IStandWithMohammed also became the micro-blogging site’s top trending hashtag.
Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton posted this tweet on her account:
Many users were also quick to point out Ahmed’s arrest as yet another case of racial profiling.
Pebble, the smartwatch manufacturing company, asked if its business was reason enough for police to arrest its employees.
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ksb, mg/jil (AFP, AP, dpa)