Muslim Teenager from Irving, United States arrested for getting homemade clock to school
Irving Police on Monday arrested a teenage American boy of Sudanese origin for bringing a homemade clock to school to impress his teachers.
14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed, a freshman at Irving MacArthur High School, said he took an electronic clock he built over the weekend to school on Monday morning to show his engineering teacher his skills with making things. However, the school authorities called the police mistaking the electronic clock for a bomb.
The boy, who has won awards for his inventions, was taken in handcuffs to juvenile detention, The Dallas Morning News reported. Additionally, the boy has been suspended from school for three days.
Mohamed’s clock is now in a police evidence room. “Police say they may yet charge him with making a hoax bomb – though they acknowledge he told everyone who would listen that it’s a clock,” the report said.
However, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said Ahmed was targeted because of his religious and racial identity. CAIR said it is also worried that some of the student’s rights may have been violated.
“I think this wouldn’t even be a question if his name wasn’t Ahmed Mohamed,” said Alia Salem, executive director of CAIR’s North Texas chapter. “He is an excited kid who is very bright and wants to share it with his teachers.”
While a soldering iron dangled from the shelf behind him, Mohammed who was fiddling with a cable told the newspaper “Here in high school, none of the teachers know what I can do.”
Mohamed, a self-assured kid with thick-framed glasses and a serious expression, had just started at MacArthur High School a few weeks ago. He said he loved robotics club in middle school and was searching for a similar niche in his first few weeks of high school. So, on Sunday night, the ninth grader quickly put together a homemade digital clock, a circuit board and power supply connected to digital display, and placed everything inside a case with a tiger hologram on the front.
Ahmed Mohamed, 14, and his family blame fear of Islam for his arrest on charges of making a "hoax bomb." @NBCDFW pic.twitter.com/GzZS6TKCoQ
— Ellen Bryan (@_EllenBryan) September 16, 2015
Mohamed showed the clock to his engineering teacher on Monday, who looked wary. “He was like, ‘That’s really nice. I would advise you not to show any other teachers,’” the teacher said.
He kept the clock inside his school bag. However, during the English class, the clock beeped in the middle of a lesson, annoying his teacher. Sadly, the clock kept beeping, and the teacher insisted on being showed what was causing the disruption. 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 English teacher kept the clock, and during sixth period, Mohamed was pulled out of class by the principal. The school authorities called the police, who searched Mohamed’s belongings and questioned his intentions.
“They took me to a room filled with five officers in which they interrogated me and searched through my stuff and took my tablet and my invention,” the teen said. “They were like, ‘So you tried to make a bomb?’ I told them no, I was trying to make a clock.”
But his questioner responded, “It looks like a movie bomb to me.”
The school principal even threatened to expel Mohamed, if he did not make a written statement.
During questioning, officers repeatedly brought up his last name, Mohamed said. When he tried to call his father, Mohamed said he was told he couldn’t speak to his parents until after the interrogation was over.
“I really don’t think it’s fair because I brought something to school that wasn’t a threat to anyone,” Mohamed told NBC. “I didn’t do anything wrong. I just showed my teachers something and I end up being arrested later that day.”
Irving Police Officer James McLellan stated that school officials were worried about the device. “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.”
Mohamed never claimed his device was anything but a clock, said McLellan. But school staff and police officers remained suspicious.
“It could reasonably be mistaken as a device if left in a bathroom or under a car. The concern was, what was this thing built for? Do we take him into custody?” McLellan said.
Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, the boy’s father who migrated to the US from Sudan and occasionally returns there to run for president said “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.”
Earlier this year, Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne became a national celebrity in anti-Islamic circles by giving rise to rumours in speeches that Muslims were making plans to usurp American laws.
“This all raises a red flag for us: how Irving’s government entities are operating in the current climate,” said Alia Salem.
She said she had spoken to lawyers about the boy’s arrest. “We’re still investigating,” she said, “but it seems pretty egregious.”
As for Ahmed, he is still fighting with the memory of handcuffs encircling his thin, 14-year-old wrists. “It made me feel like I wasn’t human,” he said in a video interview. “It made me feel like a criminal.”