Ahmed's sister told me to post this. Yes this situation is real for those questioning. pic.twitter.com/Oxd0JxUS6O
— Prajwol/Ru (@OfficalPrajwol) September 16, 2015
You’ve surely heard the viral story of how 14 year-old Muslim student Ahmed Mohamed was interrogated, arrested and taken to a juvenile detention facility after bringing a homemade clock to school in Irving, Texas this week. The clock was mistaken for a ‘hoax bomb’, although the teacher to whom Ahmed first showed his invention was told it was a clock. Ahmed was a freshman at MacArthur high school, where his reputation as a gadget whiz had not yet been established. In his previous school, he was well known as the kid who could fix anything for anyone. At MacArthur he was not taken at his word and was seen as a Muslim kid who made something vaguely resembling a bomb.
So many people are outraged at how a bright young kid could be so horribly treated. Ahmed has received a personal invitation to the White House from President Obama, a scholarship to NASA space camp, internship offers at Twitter and Reddit, and shout outs from Facebook, Google and MIT. Everyone is talking about this kid and the injustice he suffered.
People Magazine has an interview with Ahmed’s dad in which he reveals that his son will be transferring to another school, although they’re not sure which one yet. Ahmed’s dad, aunt and sister also say that Ahmed is very skilled at fixing things:
He won’t be returning to MacArthur High again, his father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, tells PEOPLE.
“It will bring back bad memories for him,” he says of Ahmed, whom he describes as “bright, gifted and talented.”
Even as a young boy, Ahmed was intensely curious about how things worked, his uncle, Abdul Elhassan, tells PEOPLE. From cellphones to radios to light switches, he was enthralled. And if their car broke down, he’d offer to try to fix it himself.
“I’d say, ‘What are you talking about? You don’t even know how to drive!’ ” Elhassan recalls with a laugh.
He soon developed a reputation as the “fixer” in the family, as well as around the neighborhood and even at Sam Houston Middle School, which he attended until moving up to MacArthur High this fall.
“Everybody knew him” at his former school, says his aunt, Ekhlas “Lucy” Sirelkhtim.
“My daughter was in the same after-school program as he was and the teacher would say, ‘Let Ahmed come fix it’ if anything technical went wrong,” she recalls.
One of her favorite Ahmed inventions was a small car that transformed into a boat when placed in the bathtub. It turned back into a car on dry land.
“To be honest, the clock was not his best product,” she adds.
Creating electronic devices has long been Ahmed’s passion, says his sister, Eyman Mohamad, 18.
“It’s hard for most people to break something and put it back together, but for him, it’s fun,” she says.
As for the dramatic incident at school, Eyman says, “This isn’t right as an American. Ahmed loves to build and create; it’s his hobby. If this was someone else – not being Muslim, not being brown – it wouldn’t be a problem. It became racial discrimination. But the support we’re getting from everyone shows that America is standing up, and it’s so great to see.”
When her brother was taken to the police station on Monday, “he was really heartbroken,” his sister adds. “It just broke his little heart. But now he’s like, ‘I’m never going to stop, no matter what.’ He tells people, ‘Don’t be afraid to be yourself, no matter what the consequences are.’ ”
I love how Ahmed’s aunt points out that the clock wasn’t his greatest invention. This kid reminds me of my son and his interests and my heart went out to him after hearing what he went through. The future is going to be very promising for Ahmed, although I can tell that would have been the case whether or not he was subjected to this ignorant, over the top arrest. It looks like the opportunities are just going to come faster for him now. He’s set to appear on The Late Show with Colbert soon.
Here’s an interview with Ahmed. He said “it made me really happy to see all these people support me and support others.” He also revealed that he’ll be accepting Obama’s invitation to The White House. (The Guardian has some more comments from Ahmed.)
And here’s the Irving police chief giving a press conference trying to defend their decision to arrest Ahmed:
— Marc Andreessen (@pmarca) September 16, 2015
Hey Ahmed- we're saving a seat for you at this weekend's Google Science Fair…want to come? Bring your clock! #IStandwithAhmed
— Google Science Fair (@googlescifair) September 16, 2015
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