Today a Muslim boy is a hero in America.
I surprisingly woke up to #IStandWithAhmed being the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter. Typically hashtags with a Muslim name in it involve Islamophobes trying to demonize Muslims, but this was different. In fact, it’s nothing short of amazing.
People were standing up to anti-Muslim bigotry directed against a nerdy, 14-year-old high school student named Ahmed Mohamed. This backlash was in response to Mohamed being arrested for bringing a homemade electronic clock to school.
Twitter was filled with support, including from President Obama who tweeted:
Hillary Clinton also voiced her support.
Local Presbyterian leaders of an interfaith group have offered to buy Mohamed a 3-D printer and other engineering tools, according to Alia Salem, executive director of the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, which is working with Mohamed’s family.
Why would a homemade clock get him arrested, you may ask? It shouldn’t, but his last name is Mohamed and he lives in Irving, Texas.
The town’s mayor, Beth Van Duyne, is a “a hero among a fringe movement that believes Muslims... are plotting to take over American culture and courts,” according to The Dallas Morning News. Van Duyne recently championed a law to prevent Muslims from imposing Islamic law. (Irving is only 25 minutes from Garland, where the “draw the Prophet Mohammed” contest was attacked by ISIS-sympathizing gunmen in May.)
The message in Irving is clear: If you are Muslim, anything you do might be a plot to destroy America.
“The actions by the police in arresting Mohamed point directly back to Van Duyne and the anti-Muslim climate she has created and nurtured,” said Salem.
In the past, Mohamed had built his own radios and even a Bluetooth speaker for a friend as a gift. And now he wanted to impress his teachers at his new school with his self-designed clock.
“Here in high school, none of the teachers know what I can do,” he told the Morning News.
Mohamed was in English class when his clock made a beeping sound. After the teacher asked what was that sound, Mohamed proudly unveiled his homemade clock. The teacher’s response stunned Mohamed, “She was like, it looks like a bomb.”
Mohamed explained it was simply a clock, but the teacher confiscated the clock. Soon after, Mohamed was summoned to the principal’s office, where he was met by not one but five police officers.
When Mohamed asked to call his father, the police refused to let him, according to Salem. Instead they searched his backpack, confiscated his iPad and pressured him to write a statement, Salem said. Mohamed, an American citizen, was aware of his rights and told the police he didn’t want to make any statement until his dad arrived. Salem said police continued to pressure Mohamed until he was fighting back tears. Finally, the family wrote a short statement for Mohamed:
“I built a clock. The police think it’s a bomb.”
A police spokesman said that Mohamed “kept maintaining it was a clock, but there was no broader explanation.” What other explanation could there be if it wasn’t a bomb?!
Apparently, no one in Irving, Texas, can believe a Muslim doesn’t want to blow things up.