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Obama backs Muslim boy held for bringing homemade clock to school

world Updated: Sep 18, 2015 09:10 IST
Barack Obama

Ninth grade student Ahmed Mohamed, 14, was taken in handcuffs to juvenile detention after taking a homemade clock to school. (Photo: Dallas Morning News)

The Muslim teenage boy in Texas who was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school received a ringing endorsement from President Barack Obama who tweeted on Wednesday that his invention would inspire American kids.

"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," Obama tweeted on his official handle @POTUS two days after ninth grader Ahmed Mohamed was suspended from school and picked up by Texas police.

Minutes after the President invited him to the White House reports quoted police as saying Ahmed will not face criminal charges.

"Ahmed Mohamed will not be charged with possessing a hoax bomb because there's no evidence the 14-year-old meant to cause alarm Monday at MacArthur High School in the Dallas suburb of Irving," police chief Larry Boyd said.

Ahmed's family said the boy - who told the Dallas Morning News that makes his own radios, repairs his own go-kart and on Sunday spent about 20 minutes before bedtime assembling a clock using a circuit board, power supply and other items - was suspended for three days after taking the clock to class.

His father suggested officials reacted as they did because of the boy's name and faith.

"He just wants to invent good things for mankind," Ahmed's father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, told the newspaper. "But because his name is Mohamed and because of September 11, I think my son got mistreated."

Police chief Boyd said Wednesday that the clock Ahmed built looked "suspicious in nature."

On Monday, Ahmed showed the clock to his engineering teacher and then another teacher after the clock, which was in his backpack, beeped during class. The second teacher told him that it looked like a bomb, the newspaper reported.

Ahmed was later pulled from class and brought before the principal and Irving police officers for questioning, then handcuffed as he was led out of the school. The Council on American-Islamic Relations is reviewing the matter.

"This all raises a red flag for us: how Irving's government entities are operating in the current climate," said Alia Salem, executive director of the council's North Texas chapter.

School district spokesperson Lesley Weaver declined to confirm Ahmed's suspension, citing privacy laws, but said officials were concerned with student safety and not the boy's faith.