Arrested for “telling time while Arab”

Irving, Texas, sounds like a warm and welcoming place, the kind of place where a young, budding engineer can build a clock from scratch, and, if he looks too Muslim-y, wind up getting arrested on suspicion of being a bomb-toting terrorist:

A high school student in Texas whose hobby was inventing thought he had a unique idea for a project: to build his own clock.

But the effort landed him in handcuffs and juvenile detention, accused of making a hoax bomb.

When Ahmed Mohamed, 14, brought the clock to MacArthur High School in Irving, Tex., on Monday, an engineering teacher suggested that he not show the invention to other teachers. But it beeped during an English class, prompting Ahmed to show his English teacher what it was, according to an account in The Dallas Morning News.

In a video posted on the newspaper’s website, Ahmed described how he was taken from school by the police. “They took me to a room filled with five officers,” he said. “They interrogated me, and searched through my stuff and took my tablet and my invention.”

Instead of getting the attention of his engineering teacher and maybe some positive life direction, Ahmed got an unplanned lesson in the works of George Orwell and Franz Kafka:

The newspaper quoted a police spokesman, James McLellan, as saying that Ahmed never claimed his device was anything but a clock, and the police have no reason to think it was dangerous.

But officers still did not believe Ahmed was giving them the whole story.

“We have no information that he claimed it was a bomb,” Mr. McLellan said. “He kept maintaining it was a clock, but there was no broader explanation.“

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?”

Yeah, what’s the deal with this kid with the Arab name wanting to know what time it is? His story just doesn’t add up, sorry.

The principal of Ahmed’s school, Daniel Cummings, who is ostensibly an educator, mind you, sent a letter home warning parents not to let their children bring any other suspicious-looking time-telling devices into school and, as always, to trust nothing and nobody. You know, good life lessons:

I recommend using this opportunity to talk with your child about the Student Code of Conduct and specifically not bringing items to school that are prohibited. Also, this is a good time to remind your child how important it is to immediately report any suspicious items and/or suspicious behavior they observe to any school employee so we can address it right away. We will always take necessary precautions to protect our students.

Parents, please understand that all forms of date or time-keeping are prohibited in the Irving School District. We don’t know what kind of witchcraft makes these timepieces work, and frankly we don’t want to know. Thank you for your cooperation.

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Author: DWD

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