The Internet and primarily Social Media has catapulted Ahmed Mohammed into an overnight celebrity. Ahmed, a 14-year-old Muslim schoolboy from Texas was suspended from his school after being arrested for making a homemade clock which he brought into the school.
Ahmed, a member of the school’s Robotics club, dabbled in electronics as a hobby and enjoyed making gadgets for fun according to the Dallas Morning News.
However, when he brought in his clock to show his teachers at school, they reacted in the worst possible way. Rather than be impressed by the creativity and enthusiasm of the 14-year-old middle school student, they suspected Ahmed had built a hoax I.E.D (Improvised Explosive Device) and reported him to the authorities who promptly came to the school and arrested him.
As soon as the story was reported in the Mainstream News Media, the Internet took over in a mass show of support and solidarity for Ahmed. As of 16th of September 2015, the BBC reported that more than 700,000 people (and counting) had taken to twitter to support Ahmed. Social media judged that the arrest was unjust and was motivated by bigotry and racism as Ahmed is a Muslim. The first person to take up Ahmed’s cause on Twitter was a student from Texas, Amneh Jafari who started the Hashtag #IStandWithAhmed. Very quickly, the hashtag went viral with thousands of people from all over the world Tweeting their support for Ahmed with the hashtag.
Amneh Jafari, 23, is a psychology student at the University of Texas Arlington (UTA). She was shocked to hear of the arrest of the plucky teenager and told the BBC “it was so close to home.” Having two siblings of Ahmed’s age. In her Tweet Jafari wrote:
“If his name was John he would be labelled as a genius. Since its Ahmed he’s labelled as a “suspect”. #doublestandards #IStandWithAhmed.”
Immediately the Internet took hold and her tweet was retweeted hundreds of times in just minutes. Ahmed’s family have also taken to Twitter and have created an official page @IStandWithAhmed.
Subsequently, all charges against Ahmed have been dropped and Ahmed’s device has been deemed to not be of any ‘threat’.
The Internet, however, is not giving up. Aside from all the calls for the authorities to be made accountable and the teacher along with the school to be prosecuted, support continues to pour in for Ahmed.
The innovation of Ahmed’s clock and the injustice of his arrest has also brought in huge support from all corners of the celebrity, technological and political word, not least from the President of the USA himself who tweeted directly to Ahmed an invitation to the white House. President Obama tweeted:
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.
— President Obama (@POTUS44) September 16, 2015
Hillary Clinton Tweeted:
Assumptions and fear don't keep us safe—they hold us back. Ahmed, stay curious and keep building. https://t.co/ywrlHUw3g1
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 16, 2015
Notable Celebrities have also tweeted their support for Ahmed.
Sophia Bush Tweeted:
— Sophia Bush (@SophiaBush) September 16, 2015
Russell Simmons Tweeted:
#IStandWithAhmed — stay strong little brother. you are a genius and we all support your incredible passion for innovation + technology.
— Russell Simmons (@UncleRUSH) September 16, 2015
Mark Zuckerberg took to FaceBook and wrote:
In fact, the Tech community has flooded in with its support for Ahmed and have used Twitter to offer the youngster some amazing opportunities. Here are just some of the tweets sent out to Ahmed.
Box CEO, Aaron Levi tweeted an invite to Ahmed to snub the White House and “come to Box” because “we both know you’re enterprise software guy at heart”:
Ahmed, I know you've been invited to the White House and Facebook. But, we both know you're enterprise software guy at heart. Come by Box!
— Aaron Levie (@levie) September 16, 2015
Ahmed also received an invite from Google to attend Google’s Science Fair and asking him to “bring his clock” :
Twitter themselves have extended an offer of an internship with them tweeting that they love “building things @Twitter”:
— X (@X) September 16, 2015
The Founder of Reddit, Alexis Ohanian tweeted that they want to introduce him to some of their friends in science:
— Alexis Ohanian 🧠 (@alexisohanian) September 16, 2015
Ahmed has even received an invite from NASA’s Chris Hadfield, who wants Ahmed to join them at NASA’s science show ‘Generator’ in Toronto stating that there is a ticket waiting for him:
Hi @IStandWithAhmed ! I'd love you to join us for our science show Generator in Toronto on 28 Oct. There's a ticket waiting for you.
— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) September 16, 2015
Ahmed is overwhelmed with the response he has had from all over the Internet and is sure to take up many of the offers. At a News Conference with his parents by his side, Ahmed has expressed intention to transfer to a new school. He also said that he was “very sad” that his teacher thought the clock was a Bomb. He said:
“I built a clock to impress my teacher but when I showed it to her she thought it was a threat to her. I’m very sad that she got the wrong impression of it.”
Ahmed’s family believe that his Muslim name was the mitigating factor which prompted law enforcement action against Ahmed. The Police have thus far rejected this claim stating:
“We have always had an outstanding relationship with the Muslim community,” said Irving Police Chief Larry Boyd. “Incidents like this present challenges. We want to learn how we can move forward and turn this into a positive”.
“I’m the person who built a clock and got in a lot of trouble for it.”
-Fourteen-year-old Ahmed Muhamed spoke earlier today about how an invention got him arrested at school. The teenager also said he plans to transfer to a different high school.
Learn more: http://to.pbs.org/1JbXTft
Posted by PBS NewsHour on Wednesday, September 16, 2015
What the ramifications of the fallout are for the Police Department, the School and indeed the Teacher is yet unknown but we will be sure to keep you posted.