Social media exploded Wednesday with messages of support for Ahmed Mohamed, the 14-year-old Muslim high school student in Texas who was detained by police after an English teacher thought a homemade clock he brought to class looked like a bomb.
On Tuesday night, the Dallas Morning News reported that police were considering pressing charges against Ahmed over what authorities in Irving described as a “hoax bomb.” Officials announced Wednesday that were declining to pursue charges.
I expect they will have more to say tomorrow, but Ahmed's sister asked me to share this photo. A NASA shirt! pic.twitter.com/nR4gt992gB— Anil Dash (@anildash) September 16, 2015
By Wednesday morning, the hashtag #IStandWithAhmed was trending on Twitter, as users tweeted in solidarity with the tinkering teen — and expressed outrage over what they believe was a case of anti-Muslim discrimination.
That moment when school can't tell the diff b/w a clock & a bomb but since the kid is brown, they arrest him just in case #IStandWithAhmed— shannonwoodward (@shannonwoodward) September 16, 2015
#IStandWithAhmed because I don't ever want any of my students to be told that their imagination is criminal.— Clint Smith (@ClintSmithIII) September 16, 2015
By the way: Arresting smart 9th graders isn't how you stop terrorists. It's how you CREATE THEM. #IStandWithAhmed— Peter Shankman (@petershankman) September 16, 2015
Hillary Clinton was among them.
Assumptions and fear don't keep us safe—they hold us back. Ahmed, stay curious and keep building. https://t.co/ywrlHUw3g1— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 16, 2015
So was Aziz Ansari.
#IStandWithAhmed cause I was once a brown kid in the south too. Plus sure he'll lead an amazing life & I'm trying to get in the bio pic game— Aziz Ansari (@azizansari) September 16, 2015
President Obama even invited Ahmed to the White House.
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.— President Obama (@POTUS) September 16, 2015
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also extended an invite to Ahmed.
“The future belongs to people like Ahmed,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post. “Ahmed, if you ever want to come by Facebook, I’d love to meet you. Keep building.”
Others posted photos of themselves holding clocks in solidarity.
Ahmed tweeted his gratitude.
Ahmed brought the clock — which featured a circuit board and a power supply wired to a digital display — to MacArthur High School on Monday. He said he took it out of his backpack to show his teacher after it beeped during class.
“She was like, it looks like a bomb,” Ahmed told the newspaper. “I told her, ‘It doesn’t look like a bomb to me.’”
The teacher confiscated the device, and the freshman was pulled out of class and sent to the principal’s office, where four police officers questioned him.
Despite the 9th grader’s repeated insistence that the device was not a bomb, Ahmed was handcuffed and driven to a juvenile detention center, where he was met by his parents.
Ahmed’s father was understandably furious that he was detained.
“He just wants to invent good things for mankind,” Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed told the paper. “But because his name is Mohamed and because of September 11, I think my son got mistreated.”
Mohamed said his son received a three-day suspension from the school.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties advocacy organization, said it is reviewing the case. The family said it is considering legal action.
At a press conference Wednesday, Irving police chief Larry Boyd announced that no charges would be filed against the boy.
“The student showed the device to a teacher, who was concerned that it was possibly the infrastructure for a bomb,” Boyd said. “The follow-up investigation revealed the device apparently was a homemade experiment, and there's no evidence to support the perception he intended to create alarm.”
Lesley Weaver, Irving school district spokeswoman, defended the school’s decision to detain him.
“We will always take necessary precautions to protect our students and to keep our school community as safe as possible,” Weaver said.
The chief insisted that religion did not play a role in Ahmed’s arrest.
“We live in an age where you can’t take things like that to school,” Boyd said. “Of course, we’ve seen across our country horrific things happen, so we have to err on the side of caution.”
At the White House, press secretary Josh Earnest said it was too early to say if "bias" was involved, but added: "This is an instance where you have people who have otherwise dedicated their lives to teach our children who failed in that effort, potentially because of some things in their conscience and the power of stereotypes."
At an afternoon news conference outside his family's home, Ahmed said he plans to transfer out of MacArthur High School, and offered advice to fellow tinkerers.
"Don't let people change who you are, even if you get a consequence for it," he said. "I suggest you still show it to people, at least show them your talent."