In Brief

#IStandWithAhmed: schoolboy arrested over homemade clock

'Nerds unite' behind Muslim boy led out of school in handcuffs after invention mistaken for bomb

Ahmed Mohamed

Tweeters and self-confessed "nerds" have rallied in support of a 14-year-old Muslim boy in Texas who was arrested when his homemade clock was mistaken for a bomb at school.

Ahmed Mohamed, an aspiring inventor who builds his own radios and Bluetooth speakers, carried his clock to MacArthur High School in Irving in hope of impressing his engineering teacher.

Instead, he was questioned by police, had his belongings searched and was taken out of school in handcuffs after another teacher raised concerns that it was an explosive device.

Mohamed was quickly released after officers took his finger prints, but was suspended from school for three days. Police are yet to rule out charging him for making a hoax bomb, despite acknowledging that "he told everyone who would listen that it's a clock", reported the Dallas Morning News.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations is investigating after Mohamed's father expressed fears that Islamophobia might have played a part in the incident.

Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, who immigrated from Sudan, said his son "just wants to invent good things for mankind". But he believes that "because his name is Mohamed" and "because of September 11" his son was mistreated.

"Meanwhile, Ahmed is sitting at home in his bedroom, tinkering with old gears and electrical converters, pronouncing words like 'ethnicity' for what sounds like the first time," said the Dallas Morning News, adding that the 14-year-old has vowed never to take an invention to school again.

But Mohamed has since garnered many social media supporters, with the hashtag #IStandWithAhmed trending around the world.

Some offered words of encouragement, such as Anil Dash, an entrepreneur and self-professed geek, who wrote: "I used to take circuit boards and electronics to school, even as the only brown kid. Now, my entire job is building a community of makers."

Better still, engineers from Google and Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory have offered Mohamed tours of their workplaces and even promised to crowdfund his family's trip to California.

"Nerds unite in support of boy genius," declares the Verge. "The people and institutions that care about technology, science and social justice are correct to rally in support of Mohamed because we need every talented and curious kid with thick glasses we can find. Not just the white Christian ones named Jeb."

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