Update, 12:40 p.m.: Reason has prevailed and the Irving police department has dropped its case against Ahmed Mohamed.
Original post, 12:20 a.m.: A teenager in Irving, Texas, was arrested Monday when he brought a homemade clock to class and was accused of building a “hoax bomb,” the Dallas Morning News reports.
Ahmed Mohamed, 14, is an avid inventor and built a simple clock to show an engineering teacher at his new high school this week, but the device alarmed his teachers, who apparently alerted police, he told the Morning News:
The teacher kept the clock. When the principal and a police officer pulled Ahmed out of sixth period, he suspected he wouldn’t get it back.
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.”
Ahmed felt suddenly conscious of his brown skin and his name—one of the most common in the Muslim religion. But the police kept him busy with questions.
The bell rang at least twice, he said, while the officers searched his belongings and questioned his intentions. The principal threatened to expel him if he didn’t make a written statement, he said.
“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.’ “
Ahmed was walked out of his school in handcuffs, taken to a juvenile detention center, and fingerprinted before his parents could pick him up. The police have his homemade clock, which he says is housed in “a box you could get at Target for like, five, 10 dollars, and they were telling me it was a suitcase, a briefcase.”
Ahmed’s father, longtime Irving resident Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, is a native of Sudan and has run for president of that country twice, including this year. He told the Morning News that Ahmed “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.” Father and son reportedly plan to meet with the principal and the police chief on Wednesday.
The Dallas chapter of the Council for American-Islamic Relations has taken an interest in the case. “I think this wouldn’t even be a question if his name wasn’t Ahmed Mohamed,” said CAIR’s Alia Salem, according to ABC affiliate WFAA. “He is an excited kid who is very bright and wants to share it with his teachers.”
Unfortunately, his experience this week seems to have dampened Ahmed’s enthusiasm for sharing his inventions, at least at MacArthur High in Irving: “He’s vowed never to take an invention to school again,” the Morning News says in closing.