By Wafa Jawad
When high school student Ahmed Mohamed took a homemade clock to school to show off to his teachers on September 16, the last thing he expected was to end up in handcuffs. Mohamed, a 14 year old Muslim from Irving, Texas, was arrested after his teacher believed the clock he had made was a bomb. Despite Mohamed reiterating the fact that it was a clock he had made himself, he was led out of school in handcuffs.
A photo of Mohamed’s arrest showing him wearing a NASA t-shirt quickly went viral and the hashtag #istandwithahmed was trending within hours with some of the biggest brains in technology, as well as President Obama rallying behind the teen.
Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg quickly posted the following message on his Facebook page: “Having the skill and ambition to build something cool should lead to applause, not arrest. The future belongs to people like Ahmed. Ahmed, if you ever want to come by Facebook, I’d love to meet you. Keep building,”
Throughout the day, support rained in for Mohamed. Twitter and Reddit both offered him internships while Google invited Mohamed to the Google Science Fair. “Ahmed, I’d be happy to show you how we drive the Opportunity rover. Come visit us at JPL any time,” tweeted Mike Selbert, lead flight director for the Mars Rover Opportunity.
Even President Barack Obama invited Mohamed to share his invention, tweeting “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.”
After being released from police custody, Mohamed stood in front of the press and told his story. “I built the clock to impress my teacher but when I showed it to her she thought it was a threat to her. It was really sad that she took the wrong impression and I got arrested for it,” he explained.
Even after the charges against Mohamed were dropped, he was still suspended to the rest of the week, but will not be returning to his old high school, instead he is thinking of transferring to a private school. “Thanks to all my supporters on social media. I would never have gotten this far if it weren’t for you guys. I have seen Mark Zuckerberg, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama talking about me,” continued Mohamed.
So far Mohamed has attended the Google Science Fair, and says he is planning on going to the White House with his homemade clock. Mohamed also took advantage of tours offered to him by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Despite being arrested, Ahmed Mohamed has not let his experience hinder his talent, “I never thought I’d get this far, but since I have, I will try my best to help every other kid in the world who has a problem like this. Don’t let people change who you are.”