A Muslim teenager arrested after a Texas teacher mistook his homemade clock for a bomb won invitations to the White House, Google and Facebook Wednesday in a surge of public support.
President Barack Obama congratulated Ahmed Mohamed, 14, on his skills in a pointed rebuke to school and police officials — who defended his arrest — amid accusations of Islamophobia.
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
A photo of Mohamed standing in handcuffs while wearing a t-shirt with the US space agency NASA´s logo was retweeted thousands of times in a matter of hours and became the top trending hashtag on Twitter.
Mohamed told the Dallas Morning News he hoped to impress teachers by bringing the clock to school on Monday.
“My hobby is to invent stuff,” the teen said in a video posted on the paper´s website, filmed in his electronics-filled bedroom.
“I made a clock. It was really easy. I wanted to show something small at first… they took it wrong so I was arrested for a hoax bomb.”
The son of Sudanese immigrants who live in a Dallas suburb, Mohamed loved robotics club in middle school and was hoping to find something similar at MacArthur High School. He did not get the reaction he hoped for when he showed the clock to his engineering teacher.
“He was like, ´That´s really nice,´” Mohamed said. “´I would advise you not to show any other teachers.´”
When the clock´s alarm went off in another class, the teacher told him it looked like a bomb and confiscated it. The school called police and Mohamed was taken away in cuffs amid suspicion he intended to frighten people with the device.
Police said Wednesday they have determined that Mohamed had no malicious intent and it was “just a naive set of circumstances.”
Irving Police Chief Larry Boyd insisted that Mohamed´s ethnicity had nothing to do with the response.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest called the incident an opportunity to “search our own conscious for biases that might be there.”
“At least some of Ahmed´s teachers failed him,” he said, adding that “this has the potential to be a teachable moment.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations said the heavy-handed response was suspicious given the political climate in Irving — where mayor Beth Van Duyne has claimed that Muslims are plotting to impose Sharia law — and across the nation.