The science community is offering words of encouragement for the 14-year-old boy who was arrested after he brought his homemade clock to school and accused of making a “hoax bomb.”
The Internet is already up in arms about Ahmed Mohamed’s story with many accusations of Islamophobia directed towards the Irving, Texas, school district as well as the police officers who questioned him. But even if police never charge Mohamed with a crime, some damage has already been done.
In an interview with the Dallas Morning News, Mohamed explained that he loved robotics and was looking for a similar club at Irving MacArthur High School prior to his arrest; he brought in his clock, which he put together the night before, in order to impress his teachers. Now it’s another case of someone’s love for science getting squashed because of a terrible experience.
Meanwhile, Ahmed is sitting home in his bedroom, tinkering with old gears and electrical converters, pronouncing words like “ethnicity” for what sounds like the first time.
He’s vowed never to take an invention to school again.
The striking image of Mohamed held in handcuffs while wearing a NASA shirt, paired off with his story, struck an image with many within the science community.
I expect they will have more to say tomorrow, but Ahmed's sister asked me to share this photo. A NASA shirt! pic.twitter.com/nR4gt992gB— Anil Dash (@anildash) September 16, 2015
Mohamed might not be the first Muslim boy to experience something of this nature, but geeks across all disciplines—scientists, artists, authors, and others—are tweeting in support using the hashtag #IStandWithAhmed.
A petition has been launched for the Irving Police Department to dismiss all of the charges against Mohamed while others are bringing clocks to work in solidarity.
Can't stop thinking about how a young boy was excited to show his teachers his skills and they called the fucking cops on him.— Kristen Hanley Cardozo #COLA4ALL (@KHandozo) September 16, 2015
My room looked exactly like his with soldering iron, computer, circuit boards. Some homemade, some cobbled together. #IStandWithAhmed— Grant Imahara (@grantimahara) September 16, 2015
The more I think about this the angrier I get. So much stupidity and racism. All aimed at a kid who wanted his teachers to be proud of him.— John Scalzi (@scalzi) September 16, 2015
I just spoke to #IStandWithAhmed's father: says his son is a good boy & wants to be like Einstein. School should support young inventors— AnneClaire Stapleton (@AnneClaireCNN) September 16, 2015
And it’s not the first time, either. They rallied behind Kiera Wilmot, who was expelled from her high school and faced felony charges for a science experiment.
Fantasy writer N.K. Jemisin expanded on the bigger picture of why it’s so difficult for women and people of color to even get involved in STEM fields.
As many pointed out, it’s not just an issue for Mohamed. Discouragement and bigotry is evident throughout the STEM fields at every stage.
It's easy to get outraged about an egregious case, but how to combat subtler everyday racism that discourages kids of color from sci&tech?— Emily Lakdawalla (@elakdawalla) September 16, 2015
So, yes. #IStandWithAhmed. I also stand with the kids for whom Ahmed is a signifier. He's the one we've heard about. There are others.— John Scalzi (@scalzi) September 16, 2015
And, you know. For every kid like Ahmed we hear about getting a love of science squashed, how many DON'T we know about? Tip, iceberg, etc.— John Scalzi (@scalzi) September 16, 2015
Kelly Hills acknowledged the chasm between how Mohamed’s situation was handled compared to hers: He was arrested for bringing a clock into school while she was encouraged after blowing up parts of her high school lab—multiple times.
The third time I blew up the lab, I was moved to local community college classes (& I opted to graduate early for college) #IStandWithAhmed— Kelly Hills (@rocza) September 16, 2015
Not only are they sending words of encouragement, some of the biggest names in the science community are offering Mohamed opportunities for him to nurture his love for science now that he feels he can no longer do so at his high school.
Hey Ahmed, give me a call in a couple years. We could always use smart, curious & creative people. https://t.co/02a4feMrk5— Bobak Ferdowsi (@tweetsoutloud) September 16, 2015
Hi @IStandWithAhmed ! I'd love you to join us for our science show Generator in Toronto on 28 Oct. There's a ticket waiting for you.— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) September 16, 2015
#IStandWithAhmed And we'd love to offer him an internship here next Summer! Build w us!— DoSomething (@dosomething) September 16, 2015
Ahmed: When you take on your next subject (electrical engineering maybe?) we’ve got your back – your textbooks are on us. #IstandwithAhmed— Chegg (@Chegg) September 16, 2015
Mohamed has been floored by the support and seeing that the Internet is on his side.
Thank you fellow supporters. We can ban together to stop this racial inequality and prevent this from happening again pic.twitter.com/fBlmckoafU— Ahmed Mohamed (@IStandWithAhmed) September 16, 2015
Photo via Patrick/Flickr (CC by 2.0) | Remix by Max Fleishman