By Kian Kiasaleh | Arts & Entertainment Editor
September 22, 2015
14-year-old student Ahmed Mohamed was arrested last Monday at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas. Instrument of crime? A homemade clock.
An inventor at heart and inspiring engineer, Mohamed came to school eager to show off a clock that he had built over the weekend to one of his teachers. The teacher, impressed yet slightly apprehensive, noticed the clock’s suspicious appearance and advised Mohamed to keep it out of sight. However, red flags rose when the clock began beeping during a later class, prompting Mohamed’s English teacher to confiscate and report it. Mohamed was subsequently called to the principal’s office where he was met by five police officers that searched his backpack, detained his items, and ordered him to write a statement. Mohamed insisted on waiting for his father to arrive before saying anything, but the officers denied him any phone calls pressured him to write the testimonial.
He finally managed to declare: “I built a clock. The police think it’s a bomb.”
Mohamed was suspended from MacArthur until Thursday and arrested for bringing a hoax bomb on campus. After authorities confirmed that the clock was indeed a clock, the charges were dropped.
By then the internet quickly mobilized on the story with an outpour of support for the wrongly accused teen with the trending #IStandWithAhmed. Hilary Clinton and Mark Zuckerberg have since reached out to Mohamed online, supporting Mohamed’s affinity for science. President Obama even tweeted him an invitation to bring the clock to the White House. Mohamed is also receiving various scholarship offers, one being from his dream school – The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
While Mohamed’s future is looking bright with many opportunities, the high school is facing mixed reviews. Racial and religious profiling is on the tips of many tongues as many people are condemning the school’s reaction to a Muslim student bringing in a clock.
According to SCHS Senior Bennett Lee Secrest, “It’s racial profiling at its finest. His parents should sue the school and the authorities for their ignorance.”
“Ahmed must have felt really misunderstood and this really shows how much of a problem racial profiling is.” Luv Amin (12) added.
On the other hand, schools bear the hefty responsibility of maintaining security at all costs. This leads people to wonder if the teacher was in the wrong by reporting the clock. Having no substantial evidence on Mohamed’s clock being a bomb, students and faculty members encounters the dilemma of either remaining observant or taking action. It’s essentially a double-edge sword: you don’t do anything because you have no proof and risk a bomb explosion, or act out only on your suspicions and end up racially profiling a student when you’re accusations are false. Both options are heavily reliant on the outcome, which can’t be determined in the moment.
“I understand why the school would want to take precautions against a potential bomb threat, but why arrest him when they knew it was just a clock?” expressed Ryan Wagner (11), “If they really thought it was a bomb, they would have evacuated the school, but they didn’t.”
This brings us to the age-old question, “What if he had been white?” Would the school have seen the clock as a brilliant creation, rather than a threat? Kyle Pugh (12) states, “There have been so many cases of white students being expelled for either drawing a gun or biting a pop tart into the shape of one. Schools just want to ensure safety.”
The debate continues as Mohamed’s family is currently figuring out the next steps to take in terms of schooling. This experience, although unpleasant, has certainly opened many doors for the young teen and shed a light on racial profiling from prevalent stereotypes, but also on the difficulties of maintain security. Hearing Mohamed’s story, many are encouraging him to continue creating.