14-Year-Old Boy Arrested for Bringing Homemade Clock to School Not to Be Charged

Ahmed Mohamed, a freshman at Irving MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas, seems like the kind of student America needs more of. He’s bright and curious; he’s excited about learning; and he wants to impress his teachers.

Perhaps most importantly, the 14-year-old student also appears to have a knack for engineering - Mohamed recently made an electronic clock at home, not as part of a required assignment, but because that’s what he wanted to do with his weekend. On Monday, at his parents’ encouragement, he took the clock to school in the hope of making a good impression with his first-period engineering teacher.

Later in the day, Ahmed Mohamed found himself in handcuffs. Mohamed said the problem arose when the clock rang in his back pack in class with a second teacher later in the day. He said he showed that teacher the device after other students had left the room.

“She said, ‘Well it looks like a bomb. Don’t show it to anyone else,’” he said. “And she decides to take it from me.”

Mohamed said police handcuffed him and took him to Irving police headquarters for interrogation, fingerprints and mug shots. He said his family surname repeatedly came up in police questioning.

After the Monday arrest, Irving police released a report, noting that Mohamed, who was wearing a NASA t-shirt when he was taken away in handcuffs, was charged with building a “hoax bomb.” He was released after it was determined there was no threat.

The student was suspended from school and the local police are still investigating the incident.

The school district issued a written statement, but it included no apology.

Ahmed Mohamed’s arrest has been sharply criticized, and the boy has received an outpouring of support including an invitation to the White House. The controversy has quickly garnered national attention, with Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton tweeting a message to Mohamed: “Assumptions and fear don’t keep us safe - they hold us back. Ahmed, stay curious and keep building.”

Under the hashtag “#IstandwithAhmed,” thousands of Twitter users praised the boy’s initiative and questioned why he was detained including Nasa scientists, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and US President Barack Obama.

Ahmed told reporters it was “very sad” that his teacher thought his clock was a threat.

“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.”

The police have rejected the claim made by Ahmed’s family that he was detained because of his name.

“We have always had an outstanding relationship with the Muslim community,” Irving Police Department chief Larry Boyd said on Wednesday. “Incidents like this present challenges. We want to learn how we can move forward and turn this into a positive”.


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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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