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Opinion: Why We All Need To Stand With Ahmed Mohamed


September 17, 2015

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14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed brought a homebuilt clock to MacArthur High School in Irving, TX with intent to impress his teachers. Instead, he ended up in handcuffs and sent to a detention center on Monday.

His teachers had thought he brought a bomb to school and had him arrested. His parents were not allowed to sit with him while he was questioned by the school authority and the Dallas Police Department. He was not even allowed to call his parents and he was subsequently suspended from school for three days.

Even though school authorities all admitted that Mohamed told them that he was, “A big robotics enthusiast that loves to build and create and just wanted to show his teachers the clock he had just finished building”, he was branded as a terrorist and humiliated in front of his class mates by being handcuffed and arrested without due process of law.

This shows the height of Islamophobic paranoia in America today. In a post-9/11 world that has also seen an increase of school-house shootings, teachers are no longer able to differentiate between a sincere student that wants to expand his knowledge of a subject that he is interested in, such as robotics; and a student that they label a terrorist because his name is Ahmed Mohamed, a Muslim-American of Pakistani descent. In the Arab world, it is very common to see the youth start their studies in engineering early. Also, many American Muslims that come from these regions are either engineers or doctors. So it should not be a reason to panic and call the police if they see a child wanting to learn.

The family contacted the CAIR (Council of American-Islamic Relations) who have helped them proceed in preserving their civil rights as Americans. A few questions come to mind when addressing this issue. If the child was a white Christian would he have been arrested? If he was in another state, would he have been arrested?

Any scan of Republican right-wing comments sections on articles will show many Texans trying to see who can be the ‘biggest’ patriot by being the most bigoted. These people pride themselves and being the biggest bigot. It is a badge of honor.

An example of this is with the mayor of Irving herself, Beth Van Duyne, who has made claims that interfaith groups between various religious groups are meant to bring understanding amongst the religions starting with the religious leaders are actually, “A ploy to bring Sharia law to the great state of Texas”. She has set the tone which allows for this bigotry to exist.

As a middle-schooler, Mohamed was a member of his robotics club and he wanted to know if there was something similar at his new high school. That is why he brought the clock. He initially showed it to his engineering teacher who told him that he, “Probably should not show that to another teacher”. I believe that this teacher knew the intolerance of the Texan mind. It was the English teacher that called the police.

This school should be seriously reprimanded. Instead of encouraging a young child to continue his love of creating robotics, he will no longer trust these teachers to educate them. They have abused a young mind for no other reason than their own bigotry. They should be ashamed of themselves.

I call for the immediate reinstatement of Mohamed to his class; his arrest record cleared; his suspension from school record cleared; for a public apology to Mohamad by the school and the Irving Police Department; for the police, the school and the mayor to take religious sensitivity training courses with CAIR. Mayor Beth Van Duyne should also make an apology for setting the tone to allow this bigotry to exist and cause the humiliation for a 14-year-old child who will no doubt suffer from PTSD for years to come.

In 2015, situations like this should not be tolerated or should never occur in America. However, things are getting worse. It is done as a result of the demonization of Muslims in America, the dehumanization aspect. They dehumanize and demonize Muslims because it is human nature to demonize those that you do wrong to.

By creating fear against Muslims, it creates a state of mind amongst Americans to allow for the American war machine to continue dropping bombs in the Muslim world and giving weapons to opposing Arab forces. When Americans see the death and carnage and the images of Muslim youths dead, it does not affect them and they look at the child as a future terrorist.

This is an old way of thinking. The us vs. them. Anyone who is not one of us, an outsider, is seen as a threat. This stems from ancient times when people lived in smaller groups such as in tribal or clan areas. We are still seeing this behavior now.

We need to come with a new way of thinking and realize that we all share this planet together and we must get along. Imagine, you are invited by God as a guest to his banquet. At the banquet you see Muslims, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, etc. They are all at this banquet. Well, we are all guests of God on this planet and we must share it or we will destroy each other, especially in an age of nuclear proliferation.

This arrest shows that there is a much deeper problem in American society. Can we overcome it? That remains to be seen, but I am becoming more skeptical.

Update: Since this article was first written, charges have been dropped. Also there has been a lot of support for Mohamed on social media. Some of the support includes tweets from President Obama who extended an invitation to Mohamed to bring his clock; Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton; and a Facebook post by Mark Zuckerberg extending an invitation to the Facebook offices.

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com

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