- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 16, 2015

President Obama reached out on Wednesday to a 14-year-old Muslim boy who became an Internet sensation after being arrested and suspended from his Dallas-area high school earlier in the week after he brought a homemade clock to class.

“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,” the president’s tweet read.

Ahmed Mohamed — who makes his own radios and repairs his own go-kart — made headlines after he was arrested for bringing his homemade clock to impress his teachers at MacArthur High in Irving.

“I guess everyone knows, I’m the person who built a clock and got in a lot of trouble,” he said at a Wednesday evening press conference at his home. He added that he is suspended from school for three days and trying to decide whether he wants to go back to McArthur at all, CBS reported.

Mr. Obama’s message was retweeted more than 31,000 times within the first 20 minutes it was posted. The hashtag #IStandWithAhmed had become the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter by Wednesday afternoon and a Twitter account with the same name had been created.

Other figures on social media offered support. Twitter.com’s own official account posted “Hi @IStandWithAhmed, we [love] building things at @twitter too. Would you consider interning with us? We’d love it — DM us! #IStandWithAhmed.”

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg also invited Ahmed and said tomorrow belongs to him.

“Having the skill and ambition to build something cool should lead to applause, not arrest. The future belongs to people like Ahmed,” Mr. Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page. “Ahmed, if you ever want to come by Facebook, I’d love to meet you. Keep building.”

Ahmed was wearing a NASA T-shirt when he was arrested, and one NASA scientist tweeted an invitation for the teen to come visit his lab, while another tweeted an invitation to test-drive the Mars Rover, CBS reported.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the administration has invited the teen to participate in an Astronomy Night at the White House next month with government scientists and NASA astronauts. On Wednesday evening Ahmed said he plans to follow up on the president’s offer.

Mr. Earnest also called the arrest a “teachable moment” for the nation, saying it should lead Americans to examine potential prejudice in their own hearts and minds, although he said it was “far too early” to call the arrest an act of anti-Islam prejudice, as Muslim advocacy groups did.

“America’s best teachers in our schools, in our best schools, at least, nurture the intellectual curiosity … it is clear some of Ahmed’s teachers failed him. That’s too bad, but it’s not too late for all of us to use this as a teachable moment to search our own conscience,” Mr. Earnest said.

Ahmed said that when he showed it to his engineering teacher Monday morning, the teacher advised him not to show it to anyone else. So Ahmed kept it in his bag until English class, but it beeped in the middle of a lesson, and the teacher demanded to see it after class and thought it was a bomb.

“It’s really sad that she took the wrong impression of it,” Ahmed said Wednesday evening of his English teacher.

The teacher confiscated the clock, and Ahmed was sent to the principal’s office, where he was confronted by five police officers and the principal threatened to expel him.

Ahmed was handcuffed and taken to a juvenile detention center to be fingerprinted.

Texas authorities have now closed the case and said there will be no charges but maintain that their actions were a reasonable precaution.

“He kept maintaining it was a clock, but there was no broader explanation,” Irving police spokesman James McLellan said. “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?”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations said it is also investigating the incident and called it a “red flag” and blamed the city government, which passed an anti-Shariah law earlier this year.

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