Although what happened to Ahmed Mohamed started in an unfortunate manner, the school actually responded properly; the police, however, responded inappropriately.
After bringing a homemade clock to school, Ahmed was accused of creating a hoax bomb and subjected to numerous interrogations.
There were two main questions surrounding this issue: was the accusation racist, and what was the school thinking?
The school has, of course, stated that the matter had nothing to do with Ahmed’s ethnicity; we won’t know whether that’s true or not. It did, however, concede that its protocol wasn’t perfect because at no point did Ahmed try to instill fear with the hoax bomb—the main purpose of a hoax bomb and part of the justification of their response.
In the school’s defence, however, the clock was a bulky briefcase with circuitry and exposed wires that looked similar to a bomb.
So, the school came to the conclusion that Ahmed had brought a hoax bomb to school. The teacher contacted the police, who investigated the matter. In that regard, the school acted as it was supposed to. They treated the matter seriously, informed parents that the police had investigated a “suspicious object” and ultimately came to the conclusion that there was no threat.
If the school did anything wrong, it’s that they then suspended Ahmed for three days rather than issue an apology.
The police then arrested Ahmed. A picture of Ahmed in police handcuffs surfaced on the internet, causing a lot of outrage over his arrest. They then subjected Ahmed to numerous interrogations before contacting his parents. They brought him to a juvenile facility where he was processed, including fingerprinting.
These are the horrifying actions taken—not the school’s contacting the police about a potential threat.
As a result of this mistake, however, Ahmed was invited by President Obama to visit the White House, by Facebook to visit its headquarters, and by MIT, Ahmed’s dream school, to visit its campus.
So, although the school did not apologize, Ahmed’s misfortune turned into a blessing.
Ahmed has since stated that he will be transferring schools.
Ahmed’s arrest was certainly unfortunate, but the school was not at fault in its response. In addition, Ahmed appears to have left the situation much better off than he went in.