President Obama weighed in today as part of the rising outrage over the arrest of a North Texas boy over his home-built clock by inviting him to the White House for Astronomy Night next month.
Ahmed Mohamed, 14, who is Muslim, was detained by police after a teacher at his suburban Dallas high school reported him after determining that the device looked like a bomb.
The Irving police chief announced yesterday that the youngster will not be charged since there was no evidence that he was threatening anyone at MacArthur High School. However, Mohamed was suspended for three days from school.
Photos of the thin, studious-looking Mohamed in handcuffs went viral and prompted protests by many on social media - #IStandwithAhmed - and the Council on Islamic-American Relations.
Obama tweeted: 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.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest spoke with reporters at length about the episode during today’s daily briefing.
Earnest praised teachers then said, “But at least in this instance, at least some of Ahmed's teachers failed him. That's a shame, and it tugs at your heart strings a little bit.”
“We at the White House and the president himself recognized that there could an opportunity to try to reach out to this young man and give him a unique opportunity to nurture that intellectual curiosity,” said Earnest.
“I think he's going fit in quite well with the other young people who will at the White House on astronomy night. Learning from some of the you know, most of the influenced, cutting edged scientists in the world about the wonder of the stars and the planets. That would be a tremendous opportunity for him and we hope he'll be able to attend.”
Among the outpouring of support for Mohamed was another high profile invitation from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
"Having the skill and ambition to build something cool should lead to applause, not arrest. The future belongs to people like Ahmed," Zuckerberg wrote on his personal Facebook page. "Ahmed, if you ever want to come by Facebook, I'd love to meet you."
The 14-year old told the Dallas Morning News that he likes to tinker and makes his own radios and repairs his own go-kart. The clock came together Sunday when he used a circuit board to craft it.
"He just wants to invent good things for mankind," the youngster’s father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, told the Dallas Morning News. "But because his name is Mohamed and because of Sept. 11, I think my son got mistreated."