Twitter erupted in confusion and anger Wednesday morning after news broke that 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed of Irving, Texas, had been arrested at his high school for bringing a homemade digital clock to class. In an interview with The Dallas Morning News, Ahmed explained how he got arrested for a “faux bomb” and about his hobby of inventing things.The interview, posted on YouTube, ignited an immediate online phenomenon. Friends and classmates were the first to use the hashtag “I stand with Ahmed” to show their support for the engineering enthusiast. Within hours, the hashtag was trending nationally as Ahmed’s story grabbed the attention of thousands on Twitter, helping make his arrest the most talked about news story of the day.
The outcry grew to new heights after a letter sent by Ahmed’s school principal at MacArthur High School circulated online, confirming that police found the clock in question “did not pose a threat” to anyone’s safety. The letter also sparked calls for Republican candidates to address the matter Wednesday night at the second GOP debate.
By Wednesday afternoon, Ahmed had thousands of new admirers – including Hillary Clinton, who tweeted her support, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who posted on Facebook that ”the future belongs to people like Ahmed.” He even got a personal invitation from President Barack Obama to visit the White House.
Engineers, developers and other members of the science and tech community across the globe launched a Twitter campaign to invest in Ahmed’s future. A new hashtag emerged – “Engineers For Ahmed” – to spread the word and encourage others to donate to the teen’s studies. The Electronic Frontiers Foundation tweeted, “Making clocks is not a crime,” and Wired magazine responded by publishing an instructional guide for making “your own homemade clock that isn’t a bomb.”
The outpouring of positive support for Ahmed hasn’t slowed down as of yet. Late Wednesday afternoon, the 14-year-old student even got a big-time job offer: an internship at Twitter itself.