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Obama Invites Texas Teen To White House After 'Bomb Hoax' Incident

Expressing his admiration for a high school student's curiosity about science, President Obama has invited Ahmed Mohamed to the White House.

A tweet from the president reads: "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."

Ahmed Mohamed, 14, was handcuffed and taken away from his school in Irving, Texas, earlier this week after school officials grew suspicious of a digital clock he had made in a pencil case over the weekend.

Teachers and police weren't satisfied with Mohamed's explanation that his invention was simply a clock. After they questioned him about the possibility that he was trying to perpetrate a bomb hoax, Mohamed was suspended for three days, the student's family says.

President Obama isn't the only person to voice support of Mohamed, who is a freshman at MacArthur High School. The hashtag #IStandWithAhmed is drawing thousands of messages on Instagram and on Twitter.

One image that was posted is a revised version of the NASA logo — the teen was wearing a NASA T-shirt when he was detained by police.

In many others, people simply photographed themselves with clocks, or wearing their own NASA T-shirts.

As the news of the teenager's detention by police spread this morning, several NASA scientists voiced their support for him.

And astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield wrote, "I'd love you to join us for our science show Generator in Toronto on 28 Oct. There's a ticket waiting for you."

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote, "Having the skill and ambition to build something cool should lead to applause, not arrest. The future belongs to people like Ahmed.

He added, "Ahmed, if you ever want to come by Facebook, I'd love to meet you. Keep building."

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas said, "We should not deprive our children of liberty when they haven't broken the law, and we should not suspend them from school when they haven't broken the rules."

A group of hackers in Dallas tells the Motherboard blog that they're giving Mohamed an electronics kit and some hardware, as well as a membership in a new hacker community space, to help support his experimentation.

"He just started school, he's excited and wants to impress his teachers so he brings this in and, boom, he's arrested," a leader of the Dallas Hackers Association tells Motherboard. "They put him in handcuffs. That's a frightening experience that can make you lose complete trust in authority and can make you not want to reach out anymore about [hacking and engineering]."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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