On Tuesday, September 15, Ahmed Mohamed, a fourteen-year-old child of Sudanese-Muslim descent brought a homemade alarm clock to school with the intent of impressing his engineering teacher. While he successfully demonstrated his technical prowess to that teacher, his English teacher did not react so positively. Instead of encouraging an inquisitive, intelligent young mind to become an asset to humanity, the school had him arrested.
Ahmed Mohamed and others like him are exactly who we need to nurture in order to secure our future as a society. This hits particularly close to home since I have young nephews who are the same age, and who are curious and technologically adept. They have completed technical projects ranging from setting up gaming servers to earn extra money to working nuclear fusion demonstrations for their science fair.
Why were the more science-literate teachers not consulted prior to calling the police? Ahmed’s engineering teacher actually asked him not to show his homemade clock to other teachers. It was only because the clock had an alarm function that went off during class that his English teacher discovered it. Should English teachers in Texas be required to take remedial physics and engineering courses to understand the difference between garden-variety integrated circuits, clocks, and bombs?
Beyond that, the most troubling aspect to me is that the officer, upon seeing Ahmed, exclaimed, “Yup. That’s who I thought it was.” It’s difficult not to be left with the impression that the child, at fourteen years old, had already been profiled by law enforcement due to his Muslim immigrant background.
It should concern us all that the officer’s reactions and statements made Ahmed feel “conscious of his brown skin and his name.” This is exactly the sort of heavy-handed, unjust action that is then used by Islamists to recruit those who feel like they no longer belong and have been victimized within our society. His statement of vowing to “never bring an invention to school again” should give us pause on who such misplaced actions actually serve.
We must do more to fight back against anti-Muslim bigotry, realize that Muslims are the primary victims of Islamism, and understand that without humanizing them and standing up for their rights we have no chance of making actual progress.