The White House came out firmly in support of wrongly-accused teenage clock engineer Ahmed Mohamed this week. Initially suspected by a teacher at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas, of possessing a homemade “hoax bomb,” Ahmed was reported to local police by school authorities and subsequently arrested.
Earlier in the day, he’d shown the device to his engineering teacher, who congratulated him on his inventiveness. According to Ahmed, his engineering teacher also advised him “not to show any other teachers.”
Another teacher did see the clock later in the day, though, after it began beeping in class. She was less than impressed.
“She was like – it looks like a bomb.”
Ahmed didn’t realize it at the time, but the events leading up to the intervention of the White House had just been set in motion. His concerned teacher reported the suspected bomb or “hoax bomb” to school administrators, who reported it to police. Those police showed up later to assist teachers in pulling the teen from class, to help interview him, and ultimately to arrest him. The youth was cuffed, taken away, and booked into a juvenile detention center.
“I built a clock to impress my teacher but when I showed it to her she thought it was a threat to her. I’m very sad that she got the wrong impression of it.”
How did the White House show its support to the publicly humiliated inventor and model student? With an equally public invitation to visit the White House. The invitation was issued by President Barrack Obama himself, BBC News reports.
Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It's what makes America great.— President Obama (@POTUS) September 16, 2015
In addition to receiving a nod from the White House, Ahmed has received a public outpouring of support from his family, friends, random strangers, and famous names alike. The Twitterverse came unglued with tweets equally supportive of the young inventor and furious at the school administration and the local police department. The hashtag #standwithahmed was born.
This is the ACTUAL STATEMENT from the Iriving Police on why they arrested Ahmed Mohamed. Worse than fiction. pic.twitter.com/vVybxfIKMR— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) September 16, 2015
Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak: Boy who was arrested for building a clock 'is a modern day hero' http://t.co/bI2CXcXv8L— Mashable (@mashable) September 17, 2015
The biggest problem the White House and other supporters have had with Ahmed’s arrest is that the whole things appears to be an issue of profiling. Many of those who have been following the case, including his own father, believe he was targeted as some kind of potential terrorist threat because of his name.
“He’s a very smart, brilliant boy and he said he just wanted to show himself to the world.”
The police department and school vehemently deny to the White House and everyone else who’s keeping tabs that any kind of profiling went on. The school is standing behind their teacher and their policy of reporting “anything suspicious.”
“[We] always ask our students and staff to immediately report if they observe any suspicious items.”
The White House and others have wondered why the situation couldn’t have been handled without an arrest. It’s the fact that the issue was carried so far that has made so many wonder if it had less to do with an actual fear of a bomb or even a hoax bomb than it did with Ahmed Mohamed’s name.
Certainly, during the investigative process, someone should have realized his intentions were scholarly and innocent, and that the entire debacle was simply a misunderstanding.
Despite ultimately scoring an invite to the White House, Ahmed didn’t come through his arrest and overnight publicity unscathed. During a press conference addressed to his supporters yesterday, the teenage engineer stated that he will be accepting his White House invitation. He will also be transferring schools immediately thereafter, the Verve reports.
In addition to being on his way to the White House, Ahmed’s also been invited to Facebook by Mark Zuckerberg.
Mark Zuckerberg: "Ahmed, if you ever want to come by Facebook, I'd love to meet you. Keep building." pic.twitter.com/BInjlv5T6r— Chris Dixon (@cdixon) September 16, 2015
If he can find the time between visiting the White House and Facebook, he’s also been offered a NASA space camp scholarship. It probably didn’t hurt that he was arrested in a NASA shirt for committing the crime of science.
The only folks who seem to want to keep shaming the aspiring science buff have been the administration of his school. They sent out a letter that many have deemed to be disparaging, especially following his invite to the White House.
When it’s all said and done, it appears that Ahmed will ultimately come out on top. Charges have been dropped against the young inventor. He’s got the networking he’ll need to pursue his dreams in the bag. He’s even got connections in the highest level of U.S. government: the White House itself.
[Image Courtesy: Ben Torres/Getty Images]