US student arrested over ‘clock bomb’ invited to White House

Ahmed Mohamed (14) taken away from school in Dallas area wearing handcuffs

Screengrab from a video of Ahmed Mohamed speaking to media about the incident. Photograph: The Dallas Morning News/Youtube

Screengrab from a video of Ahmed Mohamed speaking to media about the incident. Photograph: The Dallas Morning News/Youtube

 

A Texas teenager who was taken away from school in handcuffs after bringing in a homemade clock that staff mistook for a bomb has been invited to the White House by US president Barack Obama.

Ahmed Mohamed (14) was accused of making a hoax bomb, police in Irving said. The Council on American-Islamic Relations said he is Muslim and the case serves as an example of religious bigotry.

The teenager is a ninth grader was led away in handcuffs and a Nasa t-shirt from MacArthur High School near Dallas on Monday for making a project he put together to impress his new high school classmates and teachers.

“Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It‘s what makes America great,” a message on Mr Obama‘s Twitter feed said.

The White House invited Mohamed to participate in its astronomy night next month with Nasa astronauts and other young people, spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.

“In this instance, it’s clear that at least some of Ahmed’s teachers failed him. That’s too bad,” he said.

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg also invited the teenager to drop by his California-based company.

“Having the skill and ambition to build something cool should lead to applause, not arrest. The future belongs to people like Ahmed,“ he wrote on his Facebook page.

A social media campaign called #IStandWithAhmed was sparked by the arrest, which was the number one trending topic in the United States on Twitter on Wednesday with about 600,000 tweets, many critical of the school district and police.

“My hobby is to invent stuff,” Mohamed told the Dallas Morning News in a video it posted online.

He told the newspaper he enjoys robotics and was looking to continue his interests as he started high school so he showed the clock, which had a digital display and a circuit board, to a teacher. The teacher notified officials.

“They took me to a room filled with five officers," Mohamed told the Morning News.

A spokeswoman for the Irving Independent School District said at a news conference that school officials could not discuss the matter to protect the student‘s privacy. Police said no charges have been filed and they considered the case closed.

Mohamed was handcuffed and taken to a detention centre where he was fingerprinted and had mug shots taken. He was freed when his parents came for him.

Mohamed has been suspended from school, the Morning News said.

Police said the device was in a case and could be mistaken for a bomb. Police spokesman James McLellan said Mohamed‘s religion had nothing to do with their response.

Two school police officers initially questioned the student and he told them he had built a clock. He did not offer further explanation, McLellan said.

“He didn‘t explain properly what it was and they felt compelled to arrest him,“ McLellan said.

Reuters