School project or hoax bomb?

Few days back, headlines was little disheartening? Headlines were something like: A 14-year-old Muslim boy got arrested in Texas. And you know why? 9 Th grade maker arrested because his clock project looked like a fake bomb.

Perhaps you’re thinking, maybe it had exposed wires and a display; maybe it could kind of look like a bomb. And that is exactly right. But that single thought — that this project might look like a movie prop from a bad action movie — was enough to have this child arrested.

While many have been quick to jump onto the fact that Ahmed is of Middle Eastern decent, and that racism could be at play, let’s bypass that point for now. Let’s focus on the humanity involved, and the project.

For starters: clocks are not bombs. Circuits are not bombs. The part that makes a bomb a bomb is explosive. Anyone with a modicum of Maker knowledge could have looked at this and seen that it is just a circuit. But if your education on bombs were to come exclusively from movies, well then, maybe this project did look a little like a prop.

He was literally arrested because it is feasible that someone could have been alarmed if he had done something that he didn’t do. If that sentence hurt your brain, it’s because the logic at play here is dumb.

The incident was kinda: Ahmed proudly showed his first teacher of the day his clock project, looking for feedback. This is important. He brought this device to a teacher in the morning and showed it off. He encouraged the teacher to look at it. The teacher gave him positive feedback but also said, according to Ahmed, “I would advise you not to show any other teachers.” And he did not.

Sadly, a teacher later heard the thing beep in his backpack and asked what it was, causing them to “discover” it in his bag.

Given the chance to inspect the item, get corroboration from the other teachers who had seen it, and hear the kid’s story, they opted to have Ahmed handcuffed and led from the school to a detention facility and interrogated. He was then suspended.

Outrage over the incident — with many saying the student was profiled because he’s Muslim — spread on social media as #IStandWithAhmed started trending worldwide on Twitter with more than 100,000 tweets Tuesday morning. The school’s Facebook page is roiling with sharp criticism of the way the teen was treated, and the hashtag #engineersforahmed is gaining popularity.

Here it’s not the issue of racism, but a big question to humanity. Here is, of course, no end to the magnificence and horror in the human drama. Across the continents, humanity rises to every challenge that sinks to any depth. We cherish each heartbeat and murder at will. We bless nature’s miracles, yet trash the hood.

Our anger flares to violence, yet we demand justice. We covet ceaselessly, give generously. Our wallowing is legion, yet we take science and the arts to Olympian heights.

So… Some makers like Ahmed; make things. They make robots, clocks, toys, drones, and any number of items. Many of these things have exposed wires and digital displays. They shouldn’t have to worry that an absolutely harmless project is going to get them arrested or should they worry about it?

Mansi Jain