The Maneater

Column: Ahmed’s homemade clock was never about a bomb threat

Islamophobia is an increasing problem as illustrated by the arrest of teenager Ahmed Mohammed last week.

Last Monday, Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old freshman at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, was arrested for apparently making a “hoax bomb.” The only problem was that he actually made a clock.

Ahmed took the digital clock he made using various circuits and wires to school to show an engineering teacher. The teacher warned Ahmed not to show the device to other staff members. When the clock beeped in English class, his teacher asked to see what it was and notified school officials, who then contacted the police to investigate the device.

Ahmed, who hopes to become an engineer one day, was handcuffed and interrogated by police officers at a juvenile detention center. According to CNN, Irving Police spokesman Officer James McLellan stated that when the officers tried to question the teenager about his device, he only said it was a clock. Ahmed was not charged, but he was suspended for three days. He is transferring to another high school. This event illustrates the growing problem of Islamophobia in the U.S.

Ahmed Mohammad simply made a homemade clock, yet he was accused of bringing a bomb to class due to his faith, his name and the color of his skin. Ahmed is a Sudanese Muslim, which makes him an immediate target of this type of animosity and inequality. The law in Texas states that a person who is accused of making a hoax bomb “knowingly manufactures, sells, purchases, transports, or possess (it) with intent to use” or they instigate an alarm on purpose. It is apparent that Ahmed did not mean to cause any alarm with his homemade clock. Furthermore, he kept insisting that the device was a clock to no avail. The officers were intent on accusing him of making a bomb.

However, the police knew that Ahmed had not brought a bomb to school. The Huffington Post reported that the police were not investigating a bomb threat; they were looking into the possibility of a “hoax bomb.” The officers did not take the necessary steps to secure the school from a possible bomb threat. This was an obvious act of racism against someone who is of Muslim faith.

This is not an isolated incident of Islamophobia. Hate crimes against Muslims increased following Sept. 11, 2001, and have remained too common since then. [According to FBI data(https://www.rt.com/usa/231839-muslim-hate-crime-religion/), anti-Islam hate crimes have accounted for 2 percent of all hate crimes in the U.S. There have been around 100 to 150 reported crimes per year since 9/11, compared to 20 to 30 before 2001. According to the Coalition of American-Islamic Relations, 50 percent of Muslim students in California have said that they are “subjected to mean comments and rumors about them because of their religion.” [The Sikh Coalition(http://www.sikhcoalition.org/documents/pdf/go-home-terrorist.pdf) reported that 50 percent of Sikh students reported being bullied for their religion, and that number rose to 67 percent when they wore a turban.

There have also been numerous violent hate crimes this past year that have gained media attention. In November 2014, someone opened fire on a mosque in California. The next month of that same year, a man in Kansas City drove his car, which was painted with a saying stating that the Quran was a “disease worse than Ebola,” into a 15-year-old Muslim boy, killing him. In February of this year, a man shot and killed three university students at their apartment complex in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

There was quite a bit of support this past week for Ahmed, though. #IStandWithAhmed started trending on Twitter on Tuesday, with 100,000 tweets with this hashtag that morning. Ahmed received an outpouring of encouragement from the likes of President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Mark Zuckerberg, as well as many engineers. President Obama invited Ahmed to the White House for Astronomy Night on Oct. 19.

For 2.6 million Muslim Americans, the fear of being attacked for their faith is very real. This is not how people of this country should be treated. No group of people should be stereotyped based on the actions of a small minority that act under the same title. Many Americans need to change their views toward Muslims to prevent unnecessary violent discrimination. The U.S. should not be a country where Muslim teenagers are arrested for fostering their creativity and innovation.

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