Fourteen-year-old Ahmed Mohamed said he didn’t feel like a human being. He felt like a criminal.
After creating a digital alarm clock, Ahmed brought his invention to school wanting to impress his teacher. Instead, he was told to not show anybody. When the alarm from the clock rang in class, he was forced to repeatedly explain that it was just a clock that he had invented. Eventually, Ahmed was arrested and taken to a room where he was interrogated and persistently accused of making a hoax bomb.
Did the police officers who cuffed the young man actually believe the invention was a bomb?
Even after Ahmed kept explaining it was just a clock, the officials had the audacity to say that he should have been more “forthcoming” about his invention. What more was he supposed to say? Were they expecting him to admit to their presumptions?
The arrest itself is quintessentially a xenophobic overreaction, hoaxed with a declaration of a security issue.
A wall of phobia has been built that condemns all people with racial, religious, cultural or even geographic ties to Islam, immediately assuming that they are “terrorists.”
“He was mistreated in front of his friends and his teachers,” his father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, said. “That is not us. That is not America.”
I cannot help but think that if a child whose name was different were in the same position, the teachers would have simply warned him. Contrarily, perhaps his teachers would have even applauded him. And in the case of whether the other student’s invention was actually reported, when pulling the student outside, the police officer would certainly not have said, “That’s who I thought it was.”
Apparently, according to Irving Police Chief Larry Boyd, Ahmed’s arrest was simply a “naïve accident.” If I naïvely or accidentally do something wrong, I apologize.
Of course, the school and police department’s apology is to suspend Ahmed from school for three days and take away his invention.
People like Ahmed who bring forth their intellect to enrich academics, regardless of their cultural background, are the pride of our schools and communities. Ahmed’s story signifies a unified movement to end xenophobic ideologies and actions, and that is why I stand with Ahmed.