by Dave Grigger
Local police had to escort a 9th grader from Irving High School in Dallas, TX, for bringing what looked and sounded like a bomb to campus.
Ahmed Mohamed is 14, Muslim, and an able tinkerer. He had constructed a rudimentary clock, complete with wires, circuit boards, and a digital display, which he had planned to show one of his instructors. The teacher, however, quickly assumed what most of us would – that a box with protruding wires and a countdown could easily pass for a bomb.
Local police agreed. Mohamed’s device was taken and logged into evidence, and the boy was led from the school in handcuffs. Although he was not charged, he was never able to answer all questions in police interviews – most notably, for what reason he’d made a bomb-like clock in the first place, and brought it to school. He has been suspended for three days.
Like clockwork, the Council on American-Islamic Relations was quickly dispatched to provide the boy with a lawyer, and familiar calls of “racism” and “islamophobia” were trussed up and paraded before the media. Irving police, however, were quick to note that the issue at stake was the device itself, not the ethnicity of the maker. “The reaction,” said Police Chief Larry Boyd, “would have been the same regardless.”
Mohamed has found a few supporters in national media, including Wired magazine, who followed up his story with instructions for students on how to build clocks of their own.
Few people, however, are asking the most important question: if you saw a device that looked like a bomb at a high school, what would you do? Would you ignore it, or report it?