Muslim teen arrested in Texas for home-made clock to study in Qatar

  • AP, Dallas
  • Updated: Oct 21, 2015 09:18 IST
Ahmed Mohamed (R), a 14-year-old high school student who was arrested after he brought a homemade clock to his Irving, Texas high school to show his teachers and was later accused of having a "hoax bomb", speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Ahmed’s detention played into national debates about Islam, immigration and ethnicity. He visited the White House following a personal invitation from President Barack Obama. (AFP Photo)

A 14-year-old Muslim boy who was arrested after a home-made clock he brought to school was mistaken for a possible bomb will be moving with his family to Qatar where he can attend school, his family said on Tuesday.

Ahmed Mohamed’s family released a statement saying they had accepted a foundation’s offer to pay for his high school and college in Doha, Qatar. He recently visited the country as part of a whirlwind month that included a Monday stop at the White House and an appearance at the US Capitol on Tuesday.

“We are going to move to a place where my kids can study and learn, and all of them being accepted by that country,” Ahmed’s father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, told The Dallas Morning News before boarding an aircraft from Washington back home to Texas on Tuesday.

The statement said the family has been “overwhelmed by the many offers of support” since Ahmed’s arrest on September 14 at his school in Irving, a Dallas suburb.

The family said it accepted an offer from the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development to join its Young Innovators Program.

Ahmed, who along with his family will relocate to Qatar, received a full scholarship for his secondary and undergraduate education. Ahmed said he was impressed with the program and thinks he will “learn a lot and have fun, too”.

Ahmed took a home-made clock to his high school where a teacher thought it could be a bomb. The school then contacted police, who handcuffed the boy and took him to a detention center. The school also suspended him for three days.

A police photo of the device shows a carrying case containing a circuit board and power supply wired to a digital display. Police ultimately chose not to charge Ahmed with having a hoax bomb, and the police chief said there was no evidence the teen meant to cause alarm. His parents later withdrew him from the school.

But in recent weeks, the teenager has been travelling the world. Ahmed earlier this week told The Associated Press that he had visited Google and Facebook, along with other companies and institutions. He also visited Sudan, where he met with President Omar al-Bashir, which prompted criticism as al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide and war crimes for atrocities linked to the fighting in Darfur province.

Fourteen-year-old Ahmed Mohamed (C) of Irving, is guided by family advisor and former Dallas Independent School District Trustee Ron Price after a news conference outside the US Capitol in Washington DC. Mohamed was arrested by police last month when he brought a home-made electronic clock to class at MacArthur High School and officials mistook it for a bomb. (AFP Photo)

Ahmed’s father is a Sudanese immigrant to the US and a former presidential candidate in Sudan who ran against al-Bashir.

Before attending “Astronomy Night” at the White House on Monday, where he chatted briefly with President Barack Obama, Ahmed said he was grateful. He said the lesson of his experience is: “Don’t judge a person by the way they look. Always judge them by their heart.”

At the US Capitol on Tuesday, Ahmed stood alongside California Rep Mike Honda as the Democrat praised the teen, saying Ahmed had used his negative experience to raise awareness about racial and ethnic profiling.

Honda and more than two dozen other congressmen sent a letter to attorney general Loretta Lynch last month, calling on the Department of Justice to investigate Ahmed’s detention and arrest.

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