By AHMED KHOKAR
It comes as no shock that the media perpetuates negative stereotypes on Muslim Americans across the country, for, after the infamous Sept.11 attacks, Muslim Americans all across the country faced discrimination.
Only about 27 percent of Americans have a favorable view of Muslim Americans, according to the Arab American Institute. This is a highly significant statistic when one considers the fact that there are more than 12 million Muslims in the United States.
Recent news of Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old Muslim from Texas who was arrested on Sept. 16 because he brought a homemade clock to school that his teacher said resembled a bomb, brought awareness to this issue, which permeates throughout the United States.
According to CNN, as Mohamed was explaining to authorities that it was not a bomb, they told him to stay quiet. Authorities suspected that it was a hoax bomb to cause alarm around the school.
Although not all the details of the investigation have been released, many suggest that his race and religion played a role in the suspicion and ultimately the arrest.
Somehow, I find it easier to assume that this incident was a product of negative racial stereotyping rather than to assume a 14-year-old American kid brought a “hoax” bomb to school to draw attention to himself.
While the investigation was going on, Mohamed received a massive wave of support on Twitter, with the hashtag, “#IStandWithAhmed” trending for several hours. People were expressing a variety of emotions including anger, sadness and disappointment in the authorities. According to the International Business Times, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, tweeted about the incident, saying, “You’ve probably seen the story about Ahmed, the 14-year-old student in Texas who built a
clock and was arrested when he took it to school. Having the skill and ambition to build something cool should lead to applause, not arrest. The future belongs to people like Ahmed.”
He then invited Ahmed to visit Facebook, adding, “I’d love to meet you. Keep building.”
Zuckerberg was not the only high profile innovator to show support for Mohamed.
Mohamed also received an invitation to Google’s annual science fair, “Hey Ahmed- we’re saving a seat for you at this weekend’s Google Science Fair… want to come? Bring your clock! #IStandwithAhmed.”
In addition, Twitter’s own CEO invited Mohamed to visit and even offered him an internship. NASA invited Mohamed to take a tour of the facility, and Microsoft sent him several gifts including a tablet, a
phone and a laptop.
Most notably, President Barack Obama commented about the incident on twitter, saying, “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.”
President Obama’s invitation and encouraging words, along with others, set a positive example for kids who want to get interested in science, regardless of race or religious beliefs. It sends a strong message that America values education deeply and that the color of your skin
should not prevent you from reaching your potential in this country.
Although Ahmed Mohamed will likely never forget the shock of being arrested for bringing a clock to school, he should remember the encouragement of so many fellow Americans, brilliant innovators and the president of the United States.