A Texas ninth grader was arrested at his Irving school Monday for bringing a homemade clock that his teacher thought was a bomb, according to a report in the Dallas Morning News. Ahmed Mohamed was kept in a juvenile detention center and the MacArthur High School suspended him for three days, the Tuesday report added.
Mohamed, a first generation Sudanese-American, built an electronic clock -- a circuit board with a power supply wired to a digital display -- and took it to his school. He showed the project to his engineering teacher, who praised the work but told him not to show it to other teachers. During an English class, the clock -- which he had kept in his bag -- beeped, after which a teacher demanded to see what it was.
“She was like, it looks like a bomb,” 14-year-old Mohamed told the Dallas Morning News. “I told her, ‘It doesn’t look like a bomb to me.’”
Mohamed, a robotics lover, was taken out of class by the school principal and the clock was confiscated. The school authorities informed police, who asked him about his intentions and the reason he brought the device to school.
“It could reasonably be mistaken as a device if left in a bathroom or under a car. The concern was, what was this thing built for? Do we take him into custody?” police spokesperson James McLellan reportedly said.
Police took Mohamed out of the school with his hands cuffed and transported him to a juvenile detention center to take his fingerprints. Police reportedly said they might charge Mohamed for making a hoax bomb. Mohamed maintained that his project was nothing but a simple clock.
“They thought, ‘How could someone like this build something like this unless it’s a threat?’” Mohamed said.
According to Mohamed’s father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, his son’s ethnicity might have led to such a situation. “He just wants to invent good things for mankind,” he said. “But because his name is Mohamed and because of Sept. 11, I think my son got mistreated.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations was looking into the claims of Islamophobia in Irving.