Texas student Ahmed Mohamed inspires social movement

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

News of police response to a boy's digital clock in Texas last week has inspired a global social movement in support of the youth. Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old boy from Irving, Texas, was arrested at his school by police after he brought a digital clock he had made to school. After news of the police response was reported, Mohamed received support online ranging from US President Barack Obama to Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg. Yesterday Mohamed received VIP attention at Google headquarters in California at the Google Science Fair — and tommorow he plans to meet international dignitaries at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

US President Barack Obama tweet to student Ahmed Mohamed
Image: Twitter/Barack Obama.

Mohamed brought the digital clock he made to school on September 14, and a teacher mistakenly thought it resembled a bomb. Police arrested and questioned the student. Images of the boy wearing a NASA T-shirt and handcuffed by the police were quickly posted and reposted online.

Cquote1.svg Hoping that the #istandwithahmed movement translates into a substantive national conversation on race, punishment, and incarceration. Cquote2.svg

Marc Lamont Hill

The Deseret News observed that the hashtag on Twitter, #IStandWithAhmed, had become an international phenomenon. The Straits Times noted what began as individual messages to Mohamed had grown into a "support movement". American academic and professor Marc Lamont Hill commented, "Hoping that the #istandwithahmed movement translates into a substantive national conversation on race, punishment, and incarceration."

The Twitter attention led to outreach from Google and Mohamed was invited to their Google Science Fair. Mohamed was a VIP guest at the Google Science Fair this weekend, and was able to meet finalists at the event held at Google's headquarters located in Mountain View, California. Co-founder of Google, Sergey Brin, personally met with Mohamed during his visit to Google.

On Wednesday, Mohamed and his father are to travel to the United Nations. His father Mohamed El-Hassan Mohamed said he was taking his entire family to the U.N. headquarters in New York, because international dignitaries wanted to meet with his son and express their support.

Psychology major at University of Texas Arlington Amneh Jafari heard of the incident and wanted to issue her support to Mohamed. She chose the hastag #IStandWithAhmed and posted to Twitter. Jafari said she felt Mohamed had been subject to Islamophobia and her hashtag created greater awareness about this issue. The hashtag took on a life of its own, and was used in messages on Twitter over one million times by Thursday night.

NASA tweeted support of Ahmed Mohamed via its account International Space Station
Image: Twitter/NASA.

US President Barack Obama tweeted using his @POTUS account: "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."

Twitter gave Mohamed the option to come to their company for an internship. Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg tweeted to Mohamed and said the boy was welcome to come and tour the company.

Executive director of the Dallas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Alia Salem said Mohamed wishes to use his newfound fame and attention to spotlight social causes including the treatment of Muslims in the United States.

University of Texas Arlington Muslim Student Association president Sehar Memon said the large amount of positive feedback for Mohamed had helped make his situation much better. Memon also said she believed the social movement in reaction to Mohamed helped improve Muslim/non-Muslim.

Both the Irving Independent School District and the Irving Police Department have asserted that the boy's religion and name were not a factor in the manner in which they approached the situation.


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Wikinews
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
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