Remember that 14 year old kid, Ahmed Mohamed, who tinkered around with a clock to try to show off his engineering skills in his Texas school, and wound up almost being arrested because he’s a Sudanese Muslim and therefore is presumed terrorist (at least when carrying around unfamiliar-looking electronics) here in US America until proven otherwise? Well, I felt real bad for that kid, because no 14 year old should be subjected to that kind of treatment just for trying to build something he thought was cool. And I still feel bad for him, and anger toward the school and police force who saw his name, looked at his face, and immediately assumed he’d built a bomb.
But since that whole thing happened, Ahmed’s been living kind of a whirlwind life. He went to the Google Science Fair, had a whole day proclaimed in his honor in New York, went on Hajj, and has been on TV over and over again. He’s also met a lot of world leaders, from Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, to Jordan’s Queen Rania, to Barack Obama. Oh, and also, he and his family (who are Sudanese) got to go to Sudan and meet with that country’s President, Omar al-Bashir. The thing about that last one is, Omar al-Bashir is (allegedly, I guess) a genocidaire and a war criminal, wanted by the International Criminal Court for his efforts to exterminate and/or displace the population of Darfur. He is, in fact, the only sitting world leader currently wanted by the ICC, though admittedly there’s a case to be made that the ICC is unfairly biased toward a focus on African war crimes. Still, ICC bias or not, Omar al-Bashir is, by all available evidence, a really bad guy. Uh, allegedly.
What’s a little odd about this meeting is that Ahmed’s father, Mohamed al-Hassan, has actually tried to run for president against Bashir a couple of times (needless to say he hasn’t been successful). Omar al-Bashir doesn’t really countenance political opposition in general, but everybody looks chummy here. I guess international fame buys you a little leeway in Khartoum.
Then yesterday Ahmed’s life took another big turn. Ahmed needs a new school, since he (understandably) withdrew from the one where the teachers called the police on him. Well, yesterday his family announced that he wasn’t just changing schools, he’s changing countries:
Less than 24 hours after Ahmed Mohamed met President Obama, his family decided it’s time to leave America for good.
The 14-year-old Texas boy who was arrested for bringing to school a homemade clock that authorities said resembled a bomb will soon be living in Qatar.
“After careful consideration of all the generous offers received, we would like to announce that we have accepted a kind offer from Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF) for Ahmed to join the prestigious QF Young Innovators Program, which reflects the organization’s on-going dedication to empowering young people and fostering a culture of innovation and creativity,” the family said in a news release Tuesday.
Qatar, that’s cool! Now Ahmed and his family will live, probably quite well, thanks to the system of indentured servitude that underpins Qatari society. They’ll be able to exploit low-paid workers from all over Asia and the Arab world; maybe they’ll even meet some from Sudan! Congratulations, Mohamed family; you’ve made it far enough up the ladder that it’s safe to start kicking down.
None of this changes the initial injustice of what happened to Ahmed, or what that injustice says about the United States and its openness to people who “look Muslim.” And Ahmed himself probably didn’t have anything to do with either of these events; his father most likely made the arrangements to meet with Bashir and accepted the Qatari offer. But, still, this is not a great look for the kid who basically became the poster child for combating American Islamophobia. Maybe he’s not the Clock Kid we need.
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