Arrest of 14-Year-Old Student for Making a Clock: the Fruits of Sustained Fearmongering and Anti-Muslim Animus

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Arrest of 14-Year-Old Student for Making a Clock: the Fruits of Sustained Fearmongering and Anti-Muslim Animus

Ahmed Mohamed, 14, shows a photographer some of the electronics components in the bedroom that doubles as his workshop at his family’s Irving home. At left is Ahmed’s 3-year-old sister, Fatima Mohamed. (Photo: David Woo/Dallas News Staff Photographer)

There are sprawling industries and self-proclaimed career “terrorism experts” in the U.S. that profit greatly by deliberately exaggerating the threat of Terrorism and keeping Americans in a state of abject fear of “radical Islam.” There are all sorts of polemicists who build their public platforms by demonizing Muslims and scoffing at concerns over “Islamaphobia,” with the most toxic ones insisting that such a thing does not even exist, even as the mere presence of mosques is opposed across the country, or even as they are physically attacked.

 

The U.S. government just formally renewed the “State of Emergency” it declared in the aftermath of 9/11 for the 14th time since that attack occurred, ensuring that the country remains in a state of permanent, endless war, subjected to powers that are still classified as “extraordinary” even though they have become entirely normalized. As a result of all of this, a minority group of close to 3 million people is routinely targeted with bigotry and legal persecution in the Home of the Free, while fear and hysteria reign supreme in the Land of the Brave.

 

What happened in Irving, Texas, yesterday to a 14-year-old Muslim high school freshman is far from the worst instance, but it is highly illustrative of the rotted fruit of this sustained climate of cultivated fear and demonization. The Dallas Morning News reports that “Ahmed Mohamed — who makes his own radios and repairs his own go-kart — hoped to impress his teachers when he brought a homemade clock to MacArthur High,” but “instead, the school phoned police.”

 

Despite insisting that he made the clock to impress his engineering teacher, consistent with his long-time interest in “inventing stuff,” Ahmed was arrested by the police and led out of school with his hands cuffed behind him. When he was brought into the room to be questioned by the four police officers who had been dispatched to the school, one of them — who had never previously seen him — said: “Yup. That’s who I thought it was.” As a result, he “felt suddenly conscious of his brown skin and his name — one of the most common in the Muslim religion.”

 

On Twitter, Anil Dash published a photo, provided by the boy’s family, taken as he was led out in cuffs. Note that he’s wearing a NASA shirt:

 

ahmed

There’s absolutely no evidence that this was anything more than a clock, nor any indication of any kind that the talented and inventive freshman built it as anything other than a school project. But even now, “police say they may yet charge him with making a hoax bomb — though they acknowledge he told everyone who would listen that it’s a clock.”

Read the full article at The Intercept.

Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, constitutional lawyer, commentator, author of three New York Times best-selling books on politics and law, and a staff writer and editor at First Look media. His fifth and latest book is, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State, about the U.S. surveillance state and his experiences reporting on the Snowden documents around the world. Prior to his collaboration with Pierre Omidyar, Glenn’s column was featured at Guardian US and Salon.  His previous books include: With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the PowerfulGreat American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myths of Republican PoliticsA Tragic Legacy: How a Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency, and How Would a Patriot Act? Defending American Values from a President Run Amok. He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism, a George Polk Award, and was on The Guardian team that won the Pulitzer Prize for public interest journalism in 2014.

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