Muslim Freshman Arrested at Texas H.S. for Bringing Homemade Clock to School
Officials at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas, detained a ninth-grade student named Ahmed Mohamed on Monday because he brought an electronic clock that he made himself to school. Police soon arrived and put Mohamed in handcuffs. Then they took him down to the local juvenile detention hall and confiscated the clock -- all because the school thought it looked "suspicious."
The student, who is 14, likes to build things at home, and the clock -- which he told everyone who asked was a clock and only a clock -- was merely his latest building project. It took him all of 20 minutes to construct. He has put together radios and even his own go-kart, among other creations. The clock was something he wanted to show his engineering teacher.
Mohamed's English teacher, however, thought it looked dangerous.
"She was like, 'It looks like a bomb,' " Mohamed said. "I told her, 'It doesn’t look like a bomb to me.'"
The teacher took away the clock, and later that afternoon, the school principal and a police officer pulled Mohamed out of class. When they brought him in front of a different officer, one Mohamed had not met, that officer said, "Yup. That's who I thought it was."
This was when Mohamed started to wonder if all the trouble over the clock was because of his Muslim name and brown skin. The police continued to ask him if he was trying to make a bomb -- "No, I was trying to make a clock," Mohamed insisted -- and the principal even threatened to expel the boy at one point.
The Council on Islamic-American Relations has begun looking into the incident. “We’re still investigating,” said Alia Salem, the council’s North Texas chapter director, “but it seems pretty egregious.”
The school has not released any public statements on its Facebook or Twitter pages, though it did send a note addressed to parents/guardians. The note sought to reassure parents that while Irving police had responded to a "suspicious-looking item" at school, "the item did not pose a threat to your child's safety."
The note ends by saying, "We will always take necessary precautions to protect our students," though it should be pointed out that the school chose not to evacuate the students, despite the presence of the "suspicious-looking item" -- which officials suspected might be a bomb.
It should also be pointed out that even though the school and police acknowledged that the clock was not a threat, the school principal, Dan Cummings, still suspended Mohamed for three days.
Mohamed's fellow students started a campaign in his defense, utilizing the #IStandWithAhmed hashtag. That hashtag became the most popular on Twitter by Wednesday morning, leading Mohamed and his parents to create the Twitter account @IStandWithAhmed, which you can follow for further updates on his case.