Let’s review the story: 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed brought a home-made clock to his high school in Texas. He was proud of his accomplishment and showed it to his teachers over the course of the day. Ahmed’s English class teacher saw the clock as well, but suspected it may be a bomb because of its appearance. She contacted the school authorities who then called police. The teenager, who happens to be Muslim, was arrested, handcuffed and put in a jail cell. He was released a few hours later and no charges were filed after the police confirmed the device was, indeed, a clock and not a bomb.
The outpouring of support for Ahmed was nationwide and viral. Many called the arrest an overreaction and blamed racial profiling and anti-Muslimism. On the other hand, some–including noted liberal and political comedian Bill Maher–volleyed back. On his live HBO show Friday night, Maher suggested people “drop the political correctness and consider that maybe being cautious is a good thing.” He said there’s nothing wrong with being a little suspicious when there’s a young Muslim student with something that “looks exactly like a (expletive) bomb” and there are young Muslims “blowing (expletive) up” all over the world.
Meanwhile, Ahmed has since been enjoying his 15 minutes of fame. Hashtags #IStandWithAhmed and #EngineersForAhmed saw hundreds of thousands of posts and tweets. Ahmad was offered internships at Reddit and Twitter. Google reserved a place for him at its science fair. MIT asked him to come to campus. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg posted, “Having the skill and ambition to build something cool should lead to applause, not arrest. The future belongs to people like Ahmed.” And President Obama praised Ahmed’s love of science while inviting him to the White House.
How one sees this case comes from personal attitudes. I believe what’s still missing are apologies from the school and police. Even Bill Maher added that apologies would be appropriate. There’s no embarrassment in making a mistake on the side of caution and a sincere “we’re sorry, we were mistaken” would be good for public relations. Your thoughts?