14-Year-Old Boy Arrested For Bringing Homemade Clock To School

A 14-year-old boy in Irving, Texas named Ahmed Mohamed was taken into police custody after he brought a homemade clock to school. The boy, who, according to a piece in the Dallas Morning News, “makes his own radios and repairs his own go-kart,” wanted to show his engineering teacher his handiwork.

School officials originally thought his clock was a bomb and now are simply calling it a “hoax bomb.” The school administrator, Dan Cummings, in an unapologetic letter, wrote that children are encouraged “specifically [to] not bring items to school that are prohibited.” This, we are to assume, includes science projects.

Ahmed, for his part, wanted to bring the clock to show an engineering teacher. Because it consisted of a board with a digital display and a tiger hologram on the front, the teacher recommended he hide it from the rest of the staff. When it beeped in class another teacher took it away. Then Ahmed was arrested. He was released to his parents soon after but the police wanted to be careful.

Ahmed is a tinkerer. His father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, came from Sudan and is famous for arguing against anti-Islamic policies. The Irving mayor, Beth Van Duyne, is also famous for being anti-Islamic. In short, Ahmed was arrested for making while brown.

“He just wants to invent good things for mankind,” said Ahmed’s father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, who immigrated from Sudan and occasionally returns there to run for president. “But because his name is Mohamed and because of Sept. 11, I think my son got mistreated.”

Anil Dash is looking for help to keep the boy’s love of engineering alive. Andy Ihnatko offers an explanation to this outrage. “I’m Ahmed. Except I’m not brown,” he wrote. “Ahmed, you are a great kid. And the world is so much bigger than the town you’re in, and idiots are not entitled to define who you are.”

I recognized this kid immediately. This was me when I was in public school. Even in sixth grade, my classroom cubby contained a lunchbox filled with batteries, wires, and random circuits. In later years, I had technical manuals and printouts filled with arcane symbols that I knew were 6502 assembler opcodes but could have been coded German Army ENIGMA signals for all my teachers knew. I might have had the components of busted floppy drives in my bookbag. During a frustrated, failure-filled period when I was trying to master photographic printmaking, my bookbag might have contained brown bottles filled with stinky chemicals.

I twisted doorknobs and walked into unlocked, dark rooms.

The only dark room Ahmed walked into was through the front door of his school.

UPDATE – The police have dropped the case against Ahmed.