Schoolboy was arrested after his homemade clock was mistaken for a bomb by teachers and police.
Teachers reported Mohamed to the police after he brought in the clock to school [Reuters/Irving Police Department]
US President Barack Obama has issued a White House invitation to a Muslim schoolboy who was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school.
Ninth-grade high school student Ahmed Mohamed from Irving in Texas was arrested on Monday after his teachers reported him to the police for making a clock , which they said resembled a bomb.
“Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like to you like science. It’s what makes America great,” 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 (@POTUS) September 16, 2015
The arrest prompted outrage on social media with thousands expressing their anger at authorities for arresting a 14-year-old boy over his school project.
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Social media users rallied behind the teen using the hashtag #IStandWithAhmed , which has picked up more than 224,000 mentions on Twitter so far, according to analytics site Topsy, and continues to rise rapidly.
The story also ranked highest on the user-generated curation website, Reddit.
Many of the comments cited Mohamed’s religious and ethnic background as the probable cause of his arrest, a viewpoint shared by the largest Muslim civil advocacy group in the US.
Ibrahim Hooper, the spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), told Al Jazeera that it was “obvious” the school boy’s religion had played a role in his arrest.
“We believe the arrest would not have occurred if the student had not been Muslim…the school’s reaction and that of the police stems from the fact that he is a Muslim,” Hooper said.
“It is a symptom of growing Islamophobia that a 14-year-old was handcuffed and dragged away for doing a science project.”
Mohamed, who is of Sudanese background, drew support from a number of high profile African-American personalities including talk-show host Montel Williams and rapper Talib Kweli Greene.
— Talib Kweli Greene (@TalibKweli) September 16, 2015
This makes me furious #IStandWithAhmed . Today Ahmed was led out of school in handcuffs and… http://t.co/xPL0WBwvLt pic.twitter.com/qjPoQACw6B
— Montel Williams (@Montel_Williams) September 16, 2015
In a Facebook post, Williams suggested previous anti-Islamic statements made by Irving’s mayor Beth Van Duyne had played a role in stirring up anti-Muslim sentiment in the area.
“She (Van Duyne) bought into a conspiracy theory that what is actually a faith-based voluntary mediation panel…was some sort of attempt to impose Sharia law. She’s now become a hero of the paranoid far right,” Williams wrote .
Many others on Twitter drew comparisons between how US authorities treated white people who carried arms and how they treated black youth like Mohamed, who were involved in benign activities.
Both of these photos were taken in Texas. Let that sink in for a moment. #IStandWithAhmed pic.twitter.com/NQCZ9rW2lw
— Muhammad ShehrOze ? (@Shehr0ze) September 16, 2015
#IStandWithAhmed “Islamophobia is not a thing ” take a sit & look around pic.twitter.com/W7M1A8pasN
— wiss.? (@BUCKVBVRNES) September 16, 2015
One user poked fun at US police for arresting a child for carrying something as harmless as a clock.
Brought my clock to work today. #IStandWithAhmed #Solidarity pic.twitter.com/h4Jr0siF1A
— Simran Jeet Singh (@SimranColumbia) September 16, 2015
Accounts purporting to belong to Irving police on Facebook and Twitter had not posted anything since Monday.
Source: Al Jazeera