When Ahmed Mohamed went to his high school in Irving, Texas, Monday, he was so excited. A teenager with dreams of becoming an engineer, he wanted to show his teacher the digital clock he’d made from a pencil case.
The 14-year-old’s day ended not with praise, but punishment, after the school called police and he was arrested. A photo shows Ahmed, wearing a NASA T-shirt, looking confused and upset as he’s being led out of school in handcuffs.
“They arrested me and they told me that I committed the crime of a hoax bomb, a fake bomb,” the freshman later explained to WFAA after authorities released him.
Irving Police spokesman Officer James McLellan told the station, “We attempted to question the juvenile about what it was and he would simply only tell us that it was a clock.”
The teenager did that because, well, it was a clock, he said.
On Wednesday, police announced that the teen will not be charged.
Chief Larry Boyd said that Ahmed should have been “forthcoming” by going beyond the description that what he made was a clock. But Boyd said that authorities determined that the teenager did not intend to alarm anyone and the device, which the chief called “a homemade experiment,” was innocuous.
Outrage over the incident — with many saying the student was profiled because he’s Muslim — spread on social media as #IStandWithAhmed started trending worldwide on Twitter with more than 100,000 tweets Tuesday morning. The school’s Facebook page is roiling with sharp criticism of the way the teen was treated, and the hashtag #engineersforahmed is gaining popularity.
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
President Barack Obama, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and thousands of others are showing support for Ahmed.
“Cool clock, Ahmed,” Obama tweeted. “Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great.”
The President would like the teen to join him and other scientists next month for the White House’s annual Astronomy Night, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday.
Clinton tweeted that “assumptions don’t keep us safe” and urged the teenager to “keep building.”
“I think this wouldn’t even be a question if his name wasn’t Ahmed Mohamed,” said Alia Salem of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “He is an excited kid who is very bright and wants to share it with his teachers.”