When a 14-year-old’s ingenuity is rewarded with an arrest and an interrogation, some deep questions need to be asked about America’s sanity

Have you ever wanted to impress your teacher as a kid? Made paper planes that would soar through the classroom, or blocks out of play-doh because it was the only thing you could make? Well, one teenager Ahmed Mohamed, decided to impress his teacher by creating his own clock, the result? Accused and handcuffed for creating a hoax bomb.

A young teenager named Ahmed Mohamed who attends a high school in Irving, Texas was handcuffed by police, after his teacher accused his creation of a clock to look like a bomb. Mohamed, who immigrated to the United States from Sudan, believes that his son was targeted because of his skin colour and religion. Mohamed told CNN. ‘My son’s name is Mohamed – people just think Muslims are terrorists but we are peaceful, we are not that way’. Ahmed’s dad was outraged when the school did not notify him immediately about his son being in custody. Instead, he first learned of what happened when police called him. As Mohammed hurried to the station he saw his son ‘surrounded by five policemen and he was handcuffed’.

Ahmed stated in an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, he was pulled out of class at MacArthur High School by his principal along with several police officers. He was then taken to a room where he was interrogated for an hour. He also said he asked if he could call his parents. ‘They told me “No, you can’t call your parents. You’re in the middle of an interrogation at the moment” ‘. The young boy was denied access to see his parents, and was left to answer countless repetitive questions while alone and intimidated by the situation he was in. ‘They asked me a couple of times, “Is it a bomb?” and I answered a couple of times, “It’s a clock”‘.

Ahmed poured out his feelings as he said: ‘I felt like I was a criminal. I felt like I was a terrorist. I felt like all the names I was called’. The reporter asked what he meant by his own remark. Ahmed further stated how his life at middle school circulated around being called names like ‘bombmaker’ and a ‘terrorist’, ‘just because of my race and my religion’. He then described his day when he was being taken to the question room and added that when he walked into the room, an officer reclined in a chair and remarked, ‘That’s who I thought it was’. ‘I took it to mean he was pointing at me for what I am, my race’, the freshman explained.

The incident sparked controversy across the globe, with many saying the student was profiled because he’s Muslim. The situation had stormed on social media as #IStandWithAhmed started trending worldwide on Twitter with more than a staggering 100,000 tweets by Tuesday morning. The high school’s Facebook page is accumulating sharp criticism for the way the teen was treated, and the hashtag #engineersforahmed is gaining popularity.

His creativity has also been praised by the greatest minds of our generation. ‘Cool clock, Ahmed’, Obama tweeted. ‘Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great’. Mark Zuckerberg even invited Ahmed to visit Facebook’s company headquarters, posting, ‘Having the skill and ambition to build something cool should lead to applause, not arrest. The future belongs to people like Ahmed’. As Mark subtly outlines, it is the intelligence and creativity of such talented youths that he refers to when he states ‘… people like Ahmed’, not the individual’s race.

The teenager has now left the high school and has decided to transfer to another school. The family has not yet picked a new school for Ahmed, and are still looking for opportunities. ‘I’m getting all this support from all over the world. And the support isn’t just for me but for everyone who has been through this … I will fight for you if you can’t stand up for yourself’.

Inspiring the youth and helping them to build and explore is what society should aim for, instead of tearing down their hopes just because something may seem suspicious based on a person’s race and religion. We need to stand by those who express themselves through their work, stand by those who aren’t afraid to show what they’re are capable of, #IStandByAhmed – who do you stand by?

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