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September 18, 2015

Arrest of teenage inventor sparks conversation about Islamophobia

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When Ahmed Mohamed brought his homemade clock into school, he hoped to impress his teacher. He did not expect to be arrested.

School officials in Irving, Texas called the police after mistaking the 14-year-old student’s clock for a makeshift bomb. The incident prompted a nationwide social media response showing support for the young inventor through the hashtag #IStandWithAhmed and sparking a conversation about racial profiling of Muslims.

Ahmed says he has always loved tinkering with machines and one day hopes to build things that help the world. Leaders in tech like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke up to encourage him to keep inventing.

President Obama even chimed in on Wednesday with a tweet inviting Ahmed and his clock to the White House.

Ahmed was suspended, but says he does not want to return to the school. He and his family are considering legal action against the school, but their main focus has been to get his story out so that similar incidents can be avoided elsewhere, said Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Nihad Awad.

“I urge our national leaders, religious leaders, at their homes, in their places of worship, everywhere, we have to fight against xenophobia, any kind of phobia, and just reward diversity,” Awad said.


Warm up questions
  1. Do certain groups of people still face discrimination in the U.S.? Explain.
  2. What are the challenges of being a Muslim in this country?
  3. How do schools build a safe and trusting community?
Critical thinking questions
  1. What should Ahmed’s school have done when they heard concerns about Ahmed’s clock?
  2. Why has the response to this incident been so strong? What does that say about the cultural climate in the U.S.?
  3. Do you think this incident might encourage a student like Ahmed not to invent things anymore?
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