Handcuffs to White House: Ahmed Mohamed’s change of fortune after clock arrest

Posted at 8:46 AM, Sep 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-17 08:46:18-04

(CNN) — Ahmed Mohamed has a lot weighing in his 14-year-old head.

Meet with Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg? Do an internship at Twitter? Or just hang out at the White House with President Obama?

All of these cool offers are a a result of something not so cool.

Ahmed was arrested and handcuffed after some folks at his school in Irving, Texas, thought the homemade digital clock he shaped from a pencil case was some type of bomb.

“I built the clock to impress my teacher, but when I showed it to her, she thought it was a threat to her. So, it was really sad that she took the wrong impression of it,” Ahmed told journalists.

A photo of him, hands cuffed, looking dejected into a camera, with a police officer in the background shot him to instant celebrity status on social media.

To social media users, the arrest smacked of Islamophobia. They contended Ahmed had been profiled because of his looks and his name. And #IStandWithMohamed became a worldwide trending topic on Twitter.

That was Monday.

By Wednesday, he had an invitation to visit President Obama at the White House.

Vying for attention

Now, Facebook, Google and Twitter are all vying for the attention of the dyed-in-the-wool techie who dreams of becoming an engineer.

Google invited him to a science fair. Twitter offered him an internship.

And Facebook? Founder Mark Zuckerberg wrote a message himself.

“Having the skill and ambition to build something cool should lead to applause, not arrest. The future belongs to people like Ahmed,” Zuckerberg wrote. “Ahmed, if you ever want to come by Facebook, I’d love to meet you. Keep building.”

President Obama would like to see the clock Ahmed built.

“Cool clock, Ahmed,” Obama tweeted. “Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great.”

Police holding clock

The President invited the teen to join him and scientists next month for the White House’s annual Astronomy Night.

Ahmed says he’s definitely going. He was grateful to everyone who helped make it happen.

“Thank you to all my supporters on Twitter, Facebook, all social media,” he told reporters.

Whether the clock goes with him depends on Irving police.

Late Wednesday, they were still holding it as evidence — even though Ahmed was released without charge.

His suspension from MacArthur High School doesn’t end until Thursday, and he’s not sure he’s going back there.

Family upset

Ahmed’s family isn’t happy with how his detention was handled.

His father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, who immigrated to the United States from Sudan, said the school didn’t contact him right away. The first call he got was from police, who told him the teen would be charged, he said.

He rushed to the police station, where he saw his son “surrounded by five police and he was handcuffed,” the father said. .

Officials defend action

Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne defended school district and police. “I do not fault the school or the police for looking into what they saw as a potential threat,” she said in a statement. They all followed procedures, she said.

Van Duyne has had her rubs with the Muslim community in the past, when she supported a resolution that would prohibit “foreign law,” including sharia, CNN affiliate KTVT reported.

A spokeswoman for the Irving Independent School District said that the way the teen’s experience has been described in media reports is “unbalanced.”

She declined to explain why, citing the need to protect a student’s privacy.