By B.L. Ochman
Ahmed Mohamed wins support from Obama, Hillary, Zuckerberg, Google, Twitter, NASA, MIT, and more
When he was handcuffed and brought to juvenile detention by Houston Police on Monday, Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old freshman at MacArthur High School in Irving, TX, who likes to invent things and wants to go to M.I.T., found himself in the midst of a social media hurricane reflecting the highly charged debates about immigration, terrorism and the Muslim religion.
Tweet & #IStandWithAhmed Go Viral
By Wednesday, Ahmed had a Twitter account with more than 83,000 followers, the #IstandWithMohamed hashtag, shared more than 800,000 times, and more than 370,000 Tweets, rising at 2,000 Tweets per minute, according to Twitter Data. And by Wednesday, Ahmed had been invited to The White House by President Obama, to the Google Science Fair, to the Facebook and Twitter and Makerbase offices, and received scores of other offers.
His humble first Tweet said “Thank you for your support! I really didn’t think people would care about a muslim boy. #Thankyouforstandingwithme #IStandWithAhmed”
The #IStandWithAhmed hashtag was created by Amneh Jafari, who wrote, “If his name was John he would be labelled as a genius. Since its Ahmed he’s labelled as a “suspect”. #doublestandards #IStandWithAhmed.” She is a 23-year-old psychology student at the University of Texas Arlington (UTA).
Ahmed told reporters it was “very sad” that his teacher thought his clock was a threat. “I built a clock to impress my teacher but when I showed it to her she thought it was a threat to her. I’m very sad that she got the wrong impression of it.”
Ahmed’s father Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, who is originally from Sudan, praised his son’s ingenuity, saying he fixes everything around the house, including his father’s car, elecrticity, phone and computer.
“Having the skill and ambition to build something cool should lead to applause, not arrest,” said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO. “The future belongs to people like Ahmed,” Zuckerberg said. “Ahmed, if you ever want to come by Facebook, I’d love to meet you. Keep building.”
Seemingly non-plussed by his sudden celebrity, when asked if he had any message for other young gadget-builders, he said,
“Go for it,” he said. “Don’t let people change who you are.”