Readers React: Ahmed Mohamed: The kid with the funny-looking clock


Many of the tweets supporting 14-year-old Irving, Texas, student Ahmed Mohamed — who was arrested Monday after teachers confused a homemade electronic clock he brought to school for a bomb — were unsparing in their criticism. They blamed the arrest of the Muslim 9th grader with a passion for science on, among other things, racism and fear.

The Times received several letters reflecting those views, but others probed a little deeper for explanations. A few sympathized with the school and law enforcement authorities, while others lamented the apparent inability of Ahmed’s teachers to recognize a curious, innovative student simply for what he is.

Here is what they wrote.

Jeanette A. Fratto of Laguna Niguel says Ahmed’s unconventional clock put authorities in a bind:


I guess it’s “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” Ahmed’s clock sure doesn’t look like any clock I’ve seen.

In fact, it looks like an incendiary device. What if the school officials, wanting to be politically correct, ignored this unusual invention and it turned out to be an explosive? Thankfully it was only a clock, and thankfully the school was wise enough to check it out.

I doubt that Ahmed’s ethnicity or religion had anything to do with how he was treated. Please don’t let accusations of racism overshadow security precautions.

Ahmed has shown the most maturity so far by his response to events that went out of control.

Cerritos resident David Paquette, who holds a doctorate in physics, complains of poorly trained teachers:

Ahmed’s arrest is a sad reflection of the incompetence of teachers to encourage students to get involved in science and engineering. One might ask: How could it be that there are so few teachers who recognize an electronic clock circuit for what it is — just a clock?

Even here in California, science teachers in public schools are not required to have engaged in any actual science labs. They merely need to pass an exam covering science basics.

Why not encourage people with real science backgrounds to teach?

George Nersis of Granada Hills blames a school system suspicious of anyone different:

Ahmed’s arrest shows that his school is scared of anything different and new, like a Muslim teenager who makes a clock and shows a passion for inventing.

Growing up, I endured a lot of racist comments for being the wrong skin color while attending a predominantly “white” school. I would hear things like “Go bomb something” and “Thanks for 9/11.”

I was lucky, because those racist comments put me in a “figurative” box and not an actual box, like Ahmed was put in for being different.

I have busted through that box and am pursing a career that involves creativity, something that I hope Ahmed does not lose just because he is different.

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