Home | News    Thursday 17 September 2015

Sudanese-American teenager becomes center of world attention after school arrest

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September 16, 2015 (WASHINGTON) – A Sudanese-American teenager received an outpouring of support from all over the world after being arrested by local police from his school on suspicion that a digital clock he built was actually a bomb.

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Ahmed Mohamed, 14, left, stands next to his father Mohamed al-hassan Mohamed as he thanks supporters during a news conference at his home, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, in Irving, Texas (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

Ahmed Mohamed who resides in the city of Irving, Texas put together the clock over the weekend and took it proudly to school to show it to his engineering teacher whose reaction was anything but encouraging.

“He was like, ‘That’s really nice,’” Ahmed was quoted by Dallas Morning News. “‘I would advise you not to show any other teachers’. ”

He kept the clock inside his school bag in English class, but the teacher complained when the alarm beeped in the middle of a lesson. Ahmed brought his invention up to show her afterward.

“She was like, it looks like a bomb,” he said. “I told her, ‘It doesn’t look like a bomb to me.’”

The teacher kept the clock and then later the principal and a police officer pulled Ahmed out of sixth period.

They led Ahmed into a room where four other police officers waited. He said an officer he’d never seen before leaned back in his chair and remarked: “Yup. That’s who I thought it was.”

The officers searched his belongings and questioned his intentions, he said and even the principal threatened to expel him if he didn’t make a written statement.

“They were like, ‘So you tried to make a bomb?’” Ahmed said. “I told them no, I was trying to make a clock.”

“He said, ‘It looks like a movie bomb to me”.

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In this Sept. 14, 2015 photo provided by Eyman Mohamed, her brother Ahmed Mohamed stands in handcuffs at Irving police department in Irving, Texas (Eyman Mohamed via AP)

Ahmed was taken into custody afterwards in handcuffs and sent to a juvenile detention center after taking his fingerprints.

The school also suspended him until Thursday though it is not clear if it remained in effect after the police eventually dropped the investigation.

Both police and the school maintained that they followed the proper procedures in responding to what they said appeared to be suspicious item to protect the students and community alike.

“Clearly, there were disassembled clock parts in there, but he offered no more explanation than that,” McLellan said. “A lot of these details that the family and he have provided to you were not shared with us yesterday. He was very much less than forthcoming.”

McLellan told the Dallas Morning News that Mohamed never claimed the device was anything other than a clock. But school staff and police officers remained suspicious.

Police did not explain why the school was not evacuated or bomb squads dispatched if they believed the threat was genuine.

Ahmed is the son of former Sudanese presidential candidate Mohamed al-Hassan who ran unsuccessfully last April against incumbent president Omer Hassan al-Bashir.

Al-Hassan decried the incident saying “that is not America” he lived in for three decades.

“He just wants to invent good things for mankind….But because his name is Mohamed and because of Sept. 11, I think my son got mistreated,” he told reporters.

Ahmed nonetheless became a celebrity and garnered a flood of support including celebrities and politicians all while trending worldwide on social media sites.

U.S. President Barack Obama invited Ahmed via Twitter post to bring his “cool clock” to the White House and speak with NASA scientists and astronauts at next month’s Astronomy Night.

“We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great,” the tweet read.

Josh Earnest, Obama’s press secretary, said the case goes to show how stereotypes can cloud the judgment of even the most “good-hearted people.”

“It’s clear that at least some of Ahmed’s teachers failed him,” Earnest said. “That’s too bad, but it’s not too late for all of us to use this as a teachable moment and to search our own conscience for biases in whatever form they take.”

Former U.S. Secretary of state and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also expressed support to Ahmed tweeting that "assumptions and fear don’t keep us safe — they hold us back. Ahmed, stay curious and keep building”.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also extended an invitation to Ahmed to and meet him.

“Having the skill and ambition to build something cool should lead to applause, not arrest,” Zuckerberg wrote. “The future belongs to people like Ahmed.”

Google also invited Ahmed to a science fair taking place this week and urged him to bring his clock along.

Renowned Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield asked Ahmed to join the science show Generator in Toronto late next month.

The incident raised questions about racial profiling and Islamophobia in post-September 11 world.

“I think this wouldn’t even be a question if his name wasn’t Ahmed Mohamed,” Alia Salem, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) executive director for the Dallas-Fort Worth region, told WFAA.

(ST)

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  • 17 September 2015 06:34, by dinkdong

    Next time it will be a bomb. Just giving you heads-up.

    repondre message

    • 17 September 2015 08:12, by Mi diit

      Congratulations Ahmed Mohamed on the brilliant mind.

      repondre message

    • 17 September 2015 08:53, by Bazinguaboy

      Yeah, next time it will be a bomb ... because his name is Ahmed?

      repondre message

      • 17 September 2015 09:31, by sudani ana

        Dinkdong and Mazimbuaboy you should be ashamed of yourselves

        repondre message

      • 17 September 2015 10:34, by Konan

        Dingdong and Mazimbuaboy, you bloody fools. If he were a South Sudanese would you post the same comment? Definitely the answer is "NO" . That’s what civilized people call racism.

        repondre message

  • 17 September 2015 10:07, by Redeemer

    Bombs are made and they are still being made, what is wrong if the next one will be a bomb?

    repondre message

  • 17 September 2015 11:04, by Big Head

    appreciate his tolent...incredible

    repondre message

  • 17 September 2015 16:57, by Hardlinner

    I believe 80% americans don’t know nothing about technology. even a basic clock confused americans into thinking that it could be a bomb. Ahmed should also be aware that muslim names have been tinted by muslim terrorists. my advice is, keep your electronics hobby at home.

    repondre message

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