The Media’s Response to Ahmed Mohamed

On Monday, September 14 2015, Irving, Texas police arrested 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed at school for possessing what his teachers believed to be a bomb. In fact, Ahmed was simply showing them a clock he had personally engineered. Rather than receiving accolades, Ahmed was handcuffed and then led out of the school after being investigated by the police. Although we may hear about this event from across the country and feel removed from it, imagine if you were accosted and then interrogated by your principal before being brought to the police station. Despite not knowing the boy at all, thousands of people have reached out across social media, eager to support the boy’s cause.

People across the world have accused the school of traumatizing the boy and Texas police of racial profiling. Mohamed, however, has also been praised for his technical initiative, and was even offered jobs and scholarships. His innovation in building a clock has also garnered attention from top colleges like MIT, which have offered him tours of their schools. Three days after Mohamed was arrested, MIT’s president sent out a message on Twitter that the university was “delighted” that he was interested.

However, responses haven’t ended there. A number of celebrities have shown their empathy for Mohamed’s plight, posting across social media from a mélange of fields and careers. #IStandWithAhmed hashtags have broken out across the country, and an extensive list of offers has begun rolling in for him. He’s been offered a Space Camp scholarship, a Twitter internship, and the support of Foursquare, a local search and discovery service mobile app, among others. The co-founder of Reddit, Alexis Ohanian, has even offered to introduce Ahmed to some of his connections in the science field.  

Social media hasn’t been the only source of support for Ahmed, however. Autodesk, 123D Circuits, and other software corporations have extended offers to meet and also sent free building kits to the boy. From astrophysicists to astronauts, and business schools to R&B artists, Ahmed Mohamed has gotten attention from almost everyone, and thousands are eager to share their opinions about what he’s been through.

Despite many positive reactions, Ahmed’s story has also inspired some suspicions. Richard Dawkins, a British writer and evolutionary biologist, was caught up in a controversial debate when he voiced his opinion that Ahmed’s motives were questionable. Although Dawkins believed that the boy should not have been arrested, he wondered whether the boy’s reason for inventing the clock was truly honorable, or whether he wanted to arouse widespread public attention with his work. Upon publicizing his opinions, Dawkins sparked dramatic backlash, and eventually retreated, apologizing if he seemed “over the top” in his quest for truth and too sensitive to possibly being fooled.

Regardless of his motive, Ahmed Mohamed’s plight has generated thousands of responses from social media, celebrities, and large corporations, engendering a controversial debate about science, education, and race that is unlikely to end soon.

Submitted by World Outlook Staff Writer Alexis Giff

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