Texas teen arrested for homemade clock: Due diligence or prejudicial profiling?

A Texas high school student's electronic invention became the subject of a bomb investigation by local police.

When 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed showed his homemade clock to his English teacher at MacArthur High in Irving, Texas, on Monday, she responded, “It looks like a bomb,” the gadget wizard told the The Dallas Morning News.

The next thing he knew, he was pulled out of class and interrogated by a room full of police shortly before being handcuffed and taken to a juvenile detention center.

“They were like, ‘So you tried to make a bomb?’” Ahmed, who bears a common Muslim name, told the Dallas paper.

“I told them no, I was trying to make a clock.”

Ahmed, who said he loves robotics and has a bedroom full of circuit boards, assembled the clock in a mere 20 minutes before bedtime on Sunday. What resulted was “a circuit board and power supply wired to a digital display, all strapped inside a case with a tiger hologram on the front,” according to The Dallas Morning News.

Excited about his creation, Ahmed said he first showed it to his engineering teacher on Monday morning, who warned him it looked like a bomb and that he shouldn’t show it to anyone else.

But after he showed it to his English teacher, his troubles with police began.

Police spokesman James McLellan told The Dallas Morning News, “It could reasonably be mistaken as a device if left in a bathroom or under a car. The concern was, what was this thing built for? Do we take him into custody?”

The decision was yes.

“He just wants to invent good things for mankind,” Mr. Mohamed’s father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed told the Dallas paper. Mr. Mohamed immigrated to the United States from Sudan, where he is trying to run for president, according to the Dallas News.

“But because his name is Mohamed and because of Sept. 11, I think my son got mistreated,” the elder Mr. Mohamed said.

Police say they’re still investigating the case. In the meantime, Ahmed is home, but suspended for three days from school.

On Tuesday, MacArthur High principal, Daniel Cummings, sent a letter to parents, clarifying, “While we do not have any threats to our school community ... I recommend using this opportunity to talk with your child about the Student Code of Conduct and specifically not bringing items to school that are prohibited.”

The North Texas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which called the case “egregious,” is also investigating.

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