Imagine one morning you woke up, really excited. Today was the day you were going to show off your latest invention to your friends and teachers. It turns out that they
mistake assume your invention is a threat and arrest you.
That’s exactly what happened today in Texas to a young boy named Ahmed Mohamed.
Ahmed was arrested by Dallas police when his teachers thought the clock that he built was a bomb. He was taken to a juvenile detention centre by cops, and was suspended by his school. The police say he might be charged with making a ‘hoax bomb’, even though he admitted several times that it was a clock.
Sounds absurd right? It’s actually not. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the story, Ahmed is brown.
That’s the main issue with this story; it’s all about race. Because of the colour of his skin, his teachers didn’t trust Ahmed. Ahmed lost his benefit of the doubt and was immediately arrested because his clock looked like “a TV bomb”. And that brings me right to my next point.
The fault here lies heavily, but not exclusively, with the media. The media is in charge with shaping the culture that we absorb daily, and is in charge of the rhetoric that surrounds all of us. American, as well as Canadian, media outlets have constantly shown Muslims in a negative light, creating fear amongst individuals who rely on these communications for their information. Recently Glenn Beck released a book on Islam, even though (as far as I know) he holds no qualifications in the study of Islam or demonstrates any profound knowledge of this massive religion. Sure he got researchers, but saying that people in ISIS will likely not find this book controversial because they believe it 100% (I’m paraphrasing, but the original quote is embedded in this link) isn’t a good sign of authenticity. People like Ayaan Hirsi Ali see a very warped version of Islam (due to her very unfortunate upbringing) but her career has flourished through her attacks on Islam, while people like Sam Harris go on television and say that “Islam is the motherlode of bad ideas”. Not only that, the representation of Muslims (specifically Muslim characters who wear the hijab) is low, and virtually non-existent in comedies or romantic stories. They’re not seen as people anymore. Muslims are seen as, and I’m quoting a specific movie here, “savages”.
So if an American student, whose family has been living there for generations and is of Caucasian descent, made a clock, it would look like a clock. For everyone else, including Ahmed, it’s something else.
Update: The President of the United States of America recently tweeted in support of Ahmed. The Twitter movement has had a huge impact, and many people around the world (not just limited to America) are joining in. This is absolutely great. This is what we need.
@POTUS: 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.