Harris Billings, Staff Writer
October 2, 2015
When 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed brought the clock he had made to school, he was trying to impress one of his teachers.
He had no idea it would lead to him getting suspended, detained by law enforcement on charges of a hoax bomb and only a few days later, placed at the center of the nation’s attention.
Mohamed was a first-year at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas. On Sept. 14, Mohamed’s English teacher reported him after seeing the supposedly bomb-like device he had brought in to school that day.
Shortly thereafter, school officials decided to contact law enforcement and Mohamed was placed in police custody while the situation was investigated.
This decision has been met with incredible opposition.
“He brings in this clock and it’s natural inclination that they’d be worried about this (device), but to go so far as to say it was a bomb and that he’d want to hurt people just blows my mind,” said junior Ward Sandberg.
“The police and the school overstepped what they needed to do. There was no reason to investigate him for (possession of) a bomb.”
Not even 24 hours after the incident, widespread outrage over Mohamed’s treatment had swept social media. Overnight, #IStandWithAhmed was trending with over 100,000 tweets.
Many believe that Mohamed was treated the way he was because he is Muslim, and spoke out against the actions of his school and local law enforcement.
“They probably saw this 14-year-old Sudanese kid and immediately started thinking of all of the negative stereotypes, particularly towards his religion,” said senior Elias Blondeau. “I’m just disgusted by it and really dismayed that it led to him getting arrested.”
Others point out, however, that the school officials were acting out of their concern for other students and had very little knowledge to go on.
“School resource officers questioned the student about his intentions and the reason why he brought the device to school,” said Irving Police Chief Larry Boyd during a press release on Mohamed’s arrest.
“The student would only say that is was a clock and was not forthcoming at the time about any other details.”
However, many have voiced their doubts as to whether or not the officials were truly concerned for the safety of other students.
“Their actions don’t suggest they worried about anybody,” said Associate Professor of Philosophy Lisa McLeod. “More so they just wanted to make trouble for the student, and that is not that responsibility of school officials.”
“School officials are supposed to be supportive and to help students learn.”
Mohamed has become a celebrity of sorts, receiving invitations to visit Google, Facebook and even the White House.
Additionally, all charges against Mohamed have been dropped, and his school has since invited him to return. Mohamed, however, has no interest in going back and has since transferred.
“It’s very disappointing that we’d stifle someone’s creativity and knowledge based on their religious background, their race or anything related,” said Blondeau.”This shows we have a long way to go.”
Mohamed’s story has helped to start a conversation about Islamophobia, which affects people in our country daily — even within our own community.
“There are students in our own community who, maybe not from Guilford officials, in Guilford or in Greensboro, have experienced Islamophobia,” said McLeod.
“It’s something we as a community should probably be more proactive about and not wait until an event like this happens in Greensboro or at Guilford.”