A 14-year-old Texas boy who was arrested after bringing a homemade clock to school has accepted an invitation to visit the White House as school and city officials insisted they made the right decision when they handcuffed, interrogated and arrested him this week.
Ahmed Mohamed, an engineering enthusiast, brought the clock to MacArthur high school in Irving, Texas, on Monday to show one of his teachers. Hours later, he was handcuffed and arrested by school resource officers as part of “standard procedure” after being summoned to a school office to explain the device.
After his story swept across the internet and drew messages of support from tech companies and the US president, Ahmed told reporters outside his home on Wednesday: “I built the clock to impress my teacher, but when I showed it to her she thought it was a threat to her. It was really sad that she took a wrong impression of it.”
He said he was still suspended until Thursday and was thinking of transferring to a different school.
Wearing a Nasa T-shirt, Ahmed thanked his supporters on social media, as well as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. There was a cheer when he announced that he would be visiting the White House.
The White House said Ahmed was invited to participate in an astronomy night next month. The press secretary, Josh Earnest, said the Obama administration thought the boy was failed by his teachers and called the incident a “teachable moment”.
Ahmed’s father and sister thanked the boy’s many online supporters. But Ahmed’s father also expressed his anger at his son’s treatment. “My kid was hurt and was tortured and arrested and mistreated in front of his friends inside of the school,” he said. “That is not America. That is not like us. We love to be in Irving, Texas. We love it and we love our people here.”
On Monday, Ahmed was taken from his school to police headquarters, where he was interrogated about his intentions with the device and his own surname and was not allowed to call his father, according to media reports.
A social media uproar ensued, with people questioning whether Ahmed would have been arrested had he not been Muslim.
On Wednesday, an Irving independent school district spokeswoman, Lesley Weaver, defended the school’s decision to arrest Ahmed under Texas’s “hoax bomb” statute after an English teacher reported the “suspicious” device to administrators.
“We will always take necessary precautions to protect our students and to keep our school community as safe as possible,” Weaver said. She added that members of the public appeared upset because they hadn’t seen photos of the “suspicious-looking item in question”.
“Perhaps upon release of that photo there may be a little bit different perception about what took place, and people might have a better understanding of how we were doing everything with an abundance of caution to protect all of our students in Irving,” Weaver said.
From The Guardian: