The Texas high-school freshman arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school is going to be at the White House tonight, but press secretary Josh Earnest was distancing the student from President Obama at today’s briefing.
Ahmed Mohamed’s father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, is a longtime Irving, Texas, resident who has run for president of his country of origin, Sudan. The teen was photographed last week with his arm around Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who’s wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Darfur genocide.
Tonight Ahmed is coming to the second-ever White House Astronomy Night, which will “bring together students, teachers, astronomers, engineers, scientists, and space enthusiasts for an evening of stargazing.”
Obama is using the event as a launching pad for a new initiative “to inspire and prepare more girls and boys – especially those from groups historically underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) – to excel in the STEM fields.”
The White House didn’t advertise Ahmed’s attendance, but Earnest was asked about the teen’s participation.
“I don’t believe the president will have an opportunity to meet one-on-one with Ahmed Muhammad. After all, there are several hundred people who are planning to participate in tonight’s festivities on the South Lawn. This will include educators, scientists, parents, students, astronauts and others,” Earnest said. “It’s an event that we’re looking forward to, and I know that Ahmed has indicated he’s looking forward to it too. And we certainly are pleased that he will be able to come to the White House to participate in that event.”
Asked if Ahmed was directed to not bring his clock, Earnest replied, “I’m not aware of his plans to bring the clock.”
That question came from Obama’s original tweet after the back-to-school incident last month: “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.”
Yet of bringing the clock, Earnest, who didn’t have Obama’s words in front of him, said, “I don’t know that that’s exactly what the president tweeted, but I’m not aware of any information that was shared with Ahmed about what he could bring or not bring to Astronomy Night.”
“I’m confident that Ahmed, like everyone else who attends Astronomy Night, will go through the security measures and screening measures that are necessary to ensure the safety of the president, the White House and everybody else who’s participating in Astronomy Night.”
Ahmed had earlier told Yahoo News that he wanted to talk with Obama about the challenges of growing up Muslim here.
“I’m going to talk to him about, like, how hard it is growing up in America,” he said. “It was pretty hard living in America and going to school being Muslim.”
“If I was a Caucasian male, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have gotten arrested,” Ahmed said.
Still, the teen insisted, “I’m really not into politics. I’m into science.”