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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 9/18/15

Don't take your innovative science project to school if you are Muslim!

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Message Abdus-Sattar Ghazali
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A 14-year old Muslim student takes his science project to school. Instead of appreciating his talent the school teachers call police. The teen ager is interrogated for one and a half hour. Taken to juvenile prison, fingerprinted and photographed like a criminal. During this ordeal he was not allowed to contact his parents.

What lesson the Muslim students will get from this episode and what advice I will give to Muslim students who often face bullying at school? Don't take your innovative science project to school.

This is the horrifying story of Ahmed Mohamed of Irving High School in Texas.

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Ironically, the mainstream media is now portraying him as hero of the Silicon Valley for his creative skill in making an electronic clock that was considered a bomb by teachers and police.

To borrow Zack Beauchamp of Think Progress, this is textbook racial and religious profiling: Mohamed looked like what the Irving police thought terrorists looked like, so they treated him differently.

Ahmed told NBC Dallas Fort Worth that his family surname repeatedly came up in police questioning. "I really don't think it's fair, because I brought something to school that wasn't a threat to anyone. I didn't do anything wrong. I just showed my teachers something and I end up being arrested later that day," he said.

The CNN reported this graphic account of Ahmed's arrest of Monday Sept 14:

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By Thursday, more details of the 14-year-old's arrest in Irving, Texas, came to light. In an interview with MSNBC's Chris Hayes, Ahmed said he was pulled out of class at MacArthur High School by his principal and five police officers and taken to a room where he was questioned for about an hour and a half. He said he asked the adults if he could call his parents. "They told me 'No, you can't call your parents,'" Ahmed said. "'You're in the middle of an interrogation at the moment.' They asked me a couple of times, 'Is it a bomb?' and I answered a couple of times, 'It's a clock.'" "I felt like I was a criminal," the teenager said. "I felt like I was a terrorist. I felt like all the names I was called."

Hayes asked what he meant.

In middle school, Ahmed said, he had been called "bomb maker" and a "terrorist."

"Just because of my race and my religion," he said, adding that when he walked into the room where he was questioned, an officer reclined in a chair and remarked, "That's who I thought it was." "I took it to mean he was pointing at me for what I am, my race," the freshman explained.

Adding insult to injury, Ahmed suspended for three days from the school. The school defended its cruel action as reported by Max Fisher of Vox Media:

This arrest, clearly, should never have happened. But one would like to expect at least that the Irving school, " would realize its mistake. That the school would apologize to Mohamed for humiliating and terrorizing him, acknowledge its mistake, and use it as a teaching moment to discuss racism and profiling.That is not what has happened. Instead, even after learning that the clock was just a clock built as an educational project, the school suspended Mohamed for three days and sent out a letter, which acknowledges no mistake whatsoever on the school's part even though by then school officials knew the clock was harmless, is infuriating to read for its tone-deafness.

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It seems to imply that Mohamed was at fault for violating the "Student Code of Conduct."The letter also asks students to "immediately report any suspicious items and / or suspicious behavior," in effect asking students and parents help to perpetuate the school's practice of racist profiling, even after that profiling had been clearly demonstrated as without merit. It is appalling that school officials would still think this way even after their arrest had been exposed as a horrible mistake, but it is especially telling that they would wish to announce this fact to students' parents as well.

Social Media drive

Nobody would have noticed Ahmed Mohamed's ordeal but thanks to social media his arrest news went viral. His sisters, 18-year-old Eyman and 17-year-old Ayisha, set up a Twitter account for him,@IStandWithAhmed, and watched it balloon to thousands of followers within hours. His sisters also posted his picture in hand cuff.

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Abdus-Sattar Ghazali Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
 
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