It was like clockwork. 14-year old Muslim student Ahmed Mohamed’s homemade clock’s alarm goes off during class. His teacher looks at it. Puts two and two together, calls the police and poor kid ends up in handcuffs. We all know what happened next. Lots of kids get detention but not because they did their homework and not off-campus. No kid should suffer the indignity of being taken from school in handcuffs, at least nowadays without shooting anyone.
But it’s a very different world we’re living in right now. It’s an extremely paranoid world where little things induce fear. It’s a world where little kids blow themselves up in crowded marketplaces. A world where kids play first-person shooters for real in full tactical gear. It’s a world where kids get shot down in the street for playing with guns with orange caps. Now, a kid who made a digital clock project gets accused of bringing a homemade bomb to school and gets arrested. Was he accused because of the suspicious device alone or was it because he’s a Muslim as well. When will Americans realize that a Muslim with an electronic device doesn’t guarantee that they’re a terrorist?
Admit it or not, the West is at war with every Muslim faction that doesn’t approve of Israel and whatever activities the US does in the Middle East. Admit it or not, Muslims are eyed with suspicion everywhere. It’s difficult not to equate Islam or Muslims with terrorism because of the terrible things their ‘brothers’ are doing right now. Should we sum things up? Boko Haram is still making waves in Africa sowing terror in Nigeria and neighboring countries using girls and young women as suicide bombers. Perhaps part of the 200 school girls they kidnapped some time ago. Syria and Iraq are literally going through hell because of ISIS. The group has shown the world unspeakable acts in the name of Islam and for some strange reason still manages to recruit unassuming young individuals to their cause, even from other religions. Admit it or not, Ahmed’s religion had as much to do with his arrest as his suspicious doomsday ticker. These days, a cursory look at a digital clock in a case such as what Ahmed used evokes explosive thoughts. What happened to Ahmed, the suspicion eyed towards American Muslims brings back memories of what Japanese-Americans went through during World War 2. Fortunately, the Federal government isn’t cooking up something that extreme or maybe they’re just waiting for some last straw from Islamic groups.
But we’re supposed to be better than that. Innocent before proven guilty and that kind of stuff. Freedom for all. A harmony of race and religion. The American way. One look at Ahmed in handcuffs and you’d feel sorry for the skinny kid. He’s like ten years old. In handcuffs. In exchange, he now enjoys celebrity status and has gotten offers from major tech firms like Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Apple plus a pat on the back from President Obama in the White House. All that hopefully will wipe out the trauma of being taken to detention for his project. Yours truly would assume it’s difficult for kids like Ahmed to wash away such a memory when this author himself at Ahmed’s age was accused of shoplifting and underwent body search because his less than cautious friend pocketed his ID inside the store. It’s not the US so suing the store was out of the question. That experience was in itself, terrifying.
It’s been days from his arrest and hopefully all of the wonderful stuff Ahmed’s gone through could wipe his mind clean of the unpleasant experience. For a tech-oriented kid, a tour of the Apple or Google campus would be like a trip to Disneyland ten times over. Some people argue that the kid is being too royally treated because of a case-modded over-the-counter clock when many younger students are actually building better things. But the real point is that an apologetic nation is trying to make amends to a traumatized young boy. That the nation is trying very hard not to make his religion an issue because in a perfect America, in a perfect world, it’s not supposed to be an issue in the first place.
Ahmed Mohamed’s experience does prove one thing. Whatever terrorists are doing, they’re doing it right. They’re winning because everyone is afraid. It’s unfortunate that fear has clawed its way into the school system that brilliant young minds can’t make electronic projects without being closely monitored.