Ahmed’s Clock: Islamophobia in a post-9/11 world

Mandy Stickles, Opinion Editor

Ahmed Mohamed, a freshman at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas was arrested for bring a ‘hoax bomb’ to school, when he told officers several times that it was actually his homemade clock.

The crafty 14-year-old, who reportedly enjoys creating his own gadgets from scratch, was excited to bring his homemade clock to school to show all his teachers his hard work. However, the reaction he received was not the one he was hoping for.

After showing his engineering teacher his homemade clock, he was advised by his teacher to not show anyone else and to keep it in his book bag for the remainder of the day. Mohamed listened to his teacher until the clock made a beeping noise in his English class. When asked to show his teacher what made the noise she said, “It looks like a bomb.”

Mohamed proceeded to tell her it was a clock he made. The teacher did not seem to care and confiscated the clock from him and told the principal, who then contacted local police. Mohamed had a strong feeling he would never see that clock again.

He was then taken out of class and taken into a room where four police officers awaited him.

One officer made a comment saying, “Yup. That’s who I thought it was,” explained Avi Selk, from The Dallas Morning News.

That one comment right there just proves how real Islamophobia is and the effects caused by 9/11. After all those years people are still fearful of what happened on 9/11 and many do not know how to deal and cope with the aftermath of it all.

But for a police officer, who is supposed to serve and protect the people, no matter their race, religion or ethnicity, to make such a discriminatory remark about a 14-year-old boy just proves that Islamophobia is alive and well. It is a problem that must be addressed and diminished.

Dafer Alshiban, a Wilkes University foreign exchange student from Saudi Arabia, feels bad about Ahmed’s situation and the stereotypes being placed on him based on his skin color.

Alshiban shares a story of an experience he had at a university while attending an international student luncheon. A student from Africa began to ask Alshiban about his religious beliefs and culture. As Alshiban explained his religion and what it was like at home, the African student was shocked at how similar they were and how mislead he was about Saudi Arabia.

“People should not be judged by the way that they look. People follow the media too much. Get to know someone first before putting labels on them,” said Alshiban.

Mohamed is fully aware of the discrimination that he and many of his Muslim people have to deal with on a daily basis. However, I do not think he ever thought he would have to deal with his principal threatening him with expulsion if he did not explain himself with the so called ‘bomb’ and his reasons for bringing it.

No one seemed to care what Mohamed had to say. Mohamed and his family told police and the school several times how he likes to invent technology savvy things and this was not out of the ordinary for Mohamed to do something like this. Mohamed has even stated that his homemade clock was not even one of his more elaborate projects. He was able to put his clock together on a Sunday night in just under 20 minutes.

“He just wants to invent good things for mankind,” Ahmed’s father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, said in an interview with the Dallas News. “But because his name is Mohamed and because of Sept. 11, I think my son got mistreated.”

Dr. Andrew Wilczak, a sociology professor at Wilkes, is quick to blame the media for incidents like this.

“Post 9/11 fears and current fears in the world have people worried of secret invasions, which are obviously ridiculous. But, people buy into this and are easily mislead into believing something that is not true or so outrageous due to news outlets and other social media sites,” Wilczak said.

Because of these ridiculous fears that people have about other people just based on their skin color or religion is resulting in a 14-year-old boy being suspended from school. Why? For being technologicaly savvy and wanting to show his teachers something he created with his own two hands? Mohamed should not be punished and accused for doing something wrong, he should be praised and encouraged to continue what he is doing and to never stop inventing.

In order for these stereotypes to stop people need to be more open-minded and understanding. Not everyone will think or act the same and people need to be willing to accept that.

“Most people don’t care to do this [be open-minded and understanding] and want to keep their head in the sand. People would rather be told what the world is like rather than them think for themselves,” Wilczak said.