The Clock Kid


Noor Kamal and Lawrence Lan, Staff Writers

It’s Monday, September 14. The start of a new school year awaits Ahmed Mohamed, a science enthusiast who had just begun his first week at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas. Just before he went to bed the night before, Ahmed put together his own clock, consisting of a circuit board, a metal case, a small power source, and a digital clock display. He did this in under twenty minutes.

Even before he made the clock, Ahmed was known as a smart intellectual who played around with circuits, programmed robots, made his own radios, and even once repaired his own go-kart. Ahmed also had a history of disciplinary problems: weeks of suspensions, shutting off a teacher’s projector with a hand-built remote control, nonstop talking in class, blowing bubbles in the bathroom, and more. But none of these problems were as big as his clock dilemma.

He went to his high school and gladly showed what he made to his teachers. Instead of getting praise, Ahmed was met later on in the day by several police officers and the school principal, who, over the course of two class periods, began searching through his property and questioning him.

The police insisted that it was a bomb even when Ahmed told them over and over again that it was, indeed, a clock. James McLellan of the Irving Police Department said, “We attempted to question the juvenile about what it was and he would simply only tell us that it was a clock.”

Ahmed told reporters, “[The police] were like, ‘So you tried to make a bomb?’ I told them no, I was trying to make a clock.”

The principal even went so far as to threaten to expel him if he didn’t fill out a written statement.

The worst part is that when Ahmed was escorted down to the room with the officers, an officer whom he had never seen before looked at him and said, “Yep. That’s who I thought it was.”

Ahmed was later handcuffed and taken down to a juvenile detention center, where the police fingerprinted him, took mugshots, and further questioned him until his parents came to pick him up.

Ahmed’s charges of creating a “hoax bomb” were dropped, but he was still suspended from school for three days.

The outrage that America had towards this incident sparked a wave of support for the juvenile. Everybody used the hashtag #IStandWithAhmed to show support for Ahmed. Famous political figures like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, as well as people at Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, and NASA reached out to the kid to further voice their support and to encourage Ahmed to keep up the interest in science. Some even offered him trips to visit their facilities.

Despite the benefits for Ahmed, this situation in short is truly saddening. Ahmed Mohamed was, quite simply, a 14-year-old who was arrested for making a clock which supposedly looked like a bomb. Talk about the start of a new year.

However, this raises a much bigger issue: how long will it take America to get over the fact that not all Muslims are terrorists? Subconsciously, many view Muslims as dangerous, and immediately connect them to terrorism, bombings, and various groups in the Middle East. If instead a white student, in place of Mohamed, brought a clock to school, that student’s teachers would praise him or her, just as Mohamed wished they would have done to him. There would be no suspensions, mugshots, or fingerprinting for that student. The year is 2015, folks – stereotypes are supposed to be a thing of the past. The fact that the officer said, “That’s who I thought it was,” is repugnant; the officer more than likely labelled Mohamed as the culprit simply because he’s Muslim.

Some argue that detaining Mohamed was justified by his past disciplinary issues, but this is not right. Mohamed was not misbehaving in any way; instead, he was simply showing off his new clock that he built.

Will America finally get to a point where nobody is judged by the color of their skin – when all men will be truly equal? Time will tell, but as of 2015, we’re still hoping.