Why was 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed arrested?
Ahmed Mohamed, a freshman at Irving MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas, seems like the kind of student America needs more of. He’s bright and curious; he’s excited about learning; and he wants to impress his teachers.
Perhaps most importantly, the 14-year-old student also appears to have a knack for engineering – Mohamed recently made an electronic clock at home, not as part of a required assignment, but because that’s what he wanted to do with his weekend. On Monday, at his parents’ encouragement, he took the clock to school in the hopes of making a good impression with his first-period engineering teacher.
Later in the day, Ahmed Mohamed found himself in handcuffs. The NBC affiliate in Dallas reported:
Mohamed said problems arose when the clock rang in his back pack in class with a second teacher later in the day. He said he showed that teacher the device after other students had left the room.“She said, ‘Well it looks like a bomb. Don’t show it to anyone else,’” he said. “And she decides to take it from me.”Mohamed said police handcuffed him and took him to Irving police headquarters for interrogation, fingerprints and mug shots. He said his family surname repeatedly came up in police questioning.
After the Monday arrest, Irving police released a report yesterday, noting that Mohamed, who was wearing a NASA t-shirt when he was taken away in handcuffs, was charged with building a “hoax bomb.”
The student has also been suspended from school. The Dallas Morning News reported that local police are still investigating the incident.
The school district issued a written statement yesterday, but it included no apology.
The controversy has quickly garnered national attention, with Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton tweeting a message to Mohamed this morning: “Assumptions and fear don’t keep us safe – they hold us back. Ahmed, stay curious and keep building.”
I realize, of course, that school officials encourage students and staff to be cognizant of potentially dangerous objects and materials. But I’m curious: does anyone believe that if it were 14-year-old Andy Martin, and not 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed, who had brought a homemade clock to school to impress an engineering teacher, he would have ended up arrested? Or is it more likely he’d be encouraged and celebrated for his ingenuity?