Why Islamic leader refuses to blame Texas school for arresting Ahmed Mohammed

Officials at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas, have received national scorn for suspending a boy for bringing a homemade clock that teachers thought looked like a bomb to school. At least one Islamic leader has said that the school is not to blame.

Jeffrey McWhorter/AP
Muslim men pray in front of MacArthur High School at a prayer vigil in support of Ahmed Mohamed, Thursday, in Irving, Texas. Ahmed, 14, was arrested Monday when teachers and police mistook a clock he built and brought to school for a bomb.

The Islamic Association of North Texas (IANT) said this week that they do not fault the school administrators and police officials who were responsible for suspending and handcuffing Ahmed Mohammed, the 14-year-old Muslim boy who brought a clock to class that was then mistaken for a homemade bomb.

Khalid Hamideh, a partner with the group, instead blames political leaders for creating a "climate of fear."

"We're not pointing a finger at the school district or the police department," Mr. Hamideh told the Associated Press. "Under the current climate that exists in this country, you can't really blame them because when they see something like that, they have to react."

Ahmed was pulled from school when the clock's digital alarm went off in his backpack. He was questioned and then led away from the school grounds in handcuffs. The chief of police in Irving, Larry Boyd, said that “department policy requires that handcuffs be used to protect officers and others,” according to NBC News.

“The Muslim community is concerned that Ahmed was interrogated without a lawyer or his parents present and was led out in handcuffs,” Hamideh also said.

According to its website, the IANT is “a non-profit organization of Muslims dedicated to worship, education, and community service in the Richardson (North Texas) area.” It organizes five prayer services a day, in accordance with Muslim traditions, and encourages outreach to and partnership among all faiths.

The incident regarding Ahmed is one in a string of several recent events where the Muslim community has been targeted. Earlier this week, an Islamic Center in Kentucky was defaced with anti-Islamic rhetoric before a prayer service. In January, on Texas Muslim Capitol Day, Representative Molly White, a Republican, ordered Muslim visitors to the capital to declare allegiance to America before entering the Capitol.

"I'm more concerned with state leaders and what they say than I am about [protestors] because they are the lawmakers," Mustafaa Carroll, the executive director of the Houston chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, told the Texas Tribune.

Fortunately for Ahmed, his suspension from school ended on a positive note. The 14-year-old, who classmates said had a reputation for always building things and tinkering with technology, received an invitation from President Obama to visit the White House. Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, posted that he wanted to meet Ahmed. The hashtag #IStandWithAhmed has received considerable support on social media; Ahmed’s personal Twitter account generated 37,000 followers in a matter of hours on Wednesday, the Christian Science Monitor reported.

Fourteen-year-old Pedro Andrade, a classmate of Ahmed’s, told AP that school officials were correct in their concern. Then he added, "If they really did think that it was a bomb, why didn't they evacuate?"

This report contains material from the Associated Press.

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