Barack Obama's Half-Clocked Tale of Islamophobia

Ahmed Mohamed, 14, a freshman at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas, had a mind for gadgetry and a great idea: he would build his own working clock and take it to school on Monday to show an engineering teacher. “It was the first time,” he said, “I brought an invention to school to show a teacher.” But everything went terribly, terribly wrong: Islamophobic teachers took his innocuous clock for a bomb and went so far as to have him arrested. All is well now, however, as the civil rights group CAIR and Barack Obama have stepped in, Ahmed’s persecutors have egg on their racist faces, and Ahmed has been invited to the White House.

That’s the narrative that was everywhere Wednesday (Vox’s headline was typical of the spin: “Muslim ninth grader arrested for bringing an electronics project to school”), but as with so many such stories, it is full of holes.

His clock, a busy gadget of circuits and wires without either a conventional clock face or a digital display, looked more like a bomb than like a clock. Irving police said that Ahmed carried his homemade clock to school in a briefcase; once there, he plugged it in during English class, and it began making noise.

If he took it in to school to show it to an engineering teacher, why did he plug it in during English class? What kind of clock makes noise, other than ticking?

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(Pictured: Mohamed's not-at-all suspicious, appropriate-for-English-class device)

The principal, the school resource officer, and police questioned him, according to WFAA:

[O]fficers said Ahmed was being "passive aggressive" in his answers to their questions, and didn't have a "reasonable answer" as to what he was doing with the case. Investigators said the student told them that it was just a clock that he was messing around with.

Irving police officer James McLellan remarked:

We attempted to question the juvenile about what it was and he would simply only say it was a clock. He didn't offer any explanation as to what it was for, why he created this device, why he brought it to school.

Why this reticence? Why didn’t Ahmed tell McLellan what he so readily told the international media: that he loved building things and had brought the clock to school to show to an engineering teacher?

In any case, he didn’t. After he was arrested (and released without charge), the Islamic victimhood machine kicked into high gear. Ahmed’s father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, lamented:

He just wants to invent good things for mankind. But because his name is Mohamed and because of Sept. 11, I think my son got mistreated.

Alia Salem, executive director of the North Texas chapter of the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations, declared:

This all raises a red flag for us: how Irving’s government entities are operating in the current climate.

Barack Obama himself got into the act, tweeting to Ahmed:

Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great.

Clearly Ahmed Mohamed is the victim of the hour, and the mainstream media will be celebrating him, and lamenting the alleged plight of Muslims in America, for a considerable time to come.

But what, really, did MacArthur High School officials and the Irving Police do wrong?