Texan high school student Ahmed Mohamed, 14, likes to build stuff.
He loved his robotics club in middle school and wanted to find a similar outlet for his passion upon entering his new high school, Macarthur High School in Irving, Texas. He decided to build a clock in an attempt to impress his new engineering teacher.
When he brought it in, though, the engineering teacher's reaction was cold; he was told that the clock was "nice," but not to show it to any other teachers. Unfortunately, the clock's alarm went off in his English class. The idiot English teacher thought it looked like a bomb, even though Ahmed told her that it was a clock. That didn't stop her from notifying the principal, who notified the police, who detained and interrogated him for daring to be good at making stuff.
Arresting a 14-year-old kid with a Muslim-sounding name for bringing an electronic projects to school isn’t even the worst part of this story. First off, when Ahmed was taken into the interrogation room, a police officer said "Yup. That’s who I thought it was"—an obvious reference to the color of his skin and his name. A police spokesman, apparently incapable of hearing the irony in his own words, later explained, "We have no information that he claimed it was a bomb. He kept maintaining it was a clock, but there was no broader explanation."
The police literally could not accept the fact that a brown kid put wires together to make something other than a bomb. Ahmed was suspended from school for three days, and the police "may yet charge him with making a hoax bomb."
The school district also sent out this letter to parents, blaming Ahmed for his actions and not apologizing at all:
In Irving ISD and at MacArthur High School, your child’s safety and well-being is always our top priority and we want to maintain open, honest and timely communication with you. If there was ever an imminent threat to your child, we would take immediate and necessary precautions, and we would inform you immediately.
While we do not have any threats to our school community, we want you to be aware that the Irving Police Department responded to a suspicious-looking item on campus yesterday. We are pleased to report that after the police department’s assessment, the item discovered at school did not pose a threat to your child’s safety.
Our school is cooperating fully with the ongoing police investigation, and we are handling the situation in accordance with the Irving ISD Student Code of Conduct and applicable laws. Please rest assured that we will always take necessary steps to keep our school as safe as possible.
I recommend using this opportunity to talk with your child about the Student Code of Conduct and specifically not bringing items to school that are prohibited [emphasis ours]. Also, this is a good time to remind your child how important it is to immediately report any suspicious items and/or suspicious behavior they observe to any school employee so we can address it right away. We will always take necessary precautions to protect our students.
Thank you for your understanding and support of MacArthur High School as we do everything we can for your child's safety.
Thankfully, Ahmed's story got out through The Dallas Morning News, who also published a video interview with Ahmed. He seems like a pretty chill dude:
The Internet also rushed to Ahmed's defense. The hashtag #IStandWithAhmed has been tweeted over 150,000 times, and Hillary Clinton also tweeted at Ahmed:
Anil Dash, a very prominent figurehead in the maker community (a DIY community that likes to build stuff) started a campaign to help Ahmed and his family:
On top of that, Bobak Ferdowsi, the Iranian NASA engineer famous for his mohawk, offered him a job:
I'm sure Ahmed will be excited by that—he was arrested in a NASA t-shirt:
It will take a profound commitment to ignorance for the school not to apologize and revoke Ahmed's suspension. Whatever happens, though, it definitely looks like Ahmed has a bright future.
Ahmed now has his own social media presence @IStandWithAhmed, where you can follow his adventures in justice-seeking. He already has 12,000 followers, which makes being subjected to humiliating ethnic profiling totally worth it, right?