US President Barack Omaha has personally invited a Muslim teenager to the White House, after he was arrested by police when a homemade clock he brought to school was mistaken for an explosive device.
The incident sparked outrage across the globe, with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also supporting the boy, telling him to “keep building”.
The 14-year-old avid inventor, Ahmed Mohamed, from Irving, Texas said he took his clock with him to MacArthur High School to show his teachers, but they thought it was a bomb and called police, who later handcuffed and arrested the boy.
“They interrogated me and searched through my stuff and took my tablet and my invention,” Ahmed said
“It made me feel like I wasn’t human, it made me feel like a criminal.”
Ahmed told The Dallas Morning News that he was then taken away by police for further questioning at a juvenile detention centre.
Shortly after a police press conference about the incident, Mr Obama extended a Twitter invitation for Ahmed to bring his “cool clock” to the White House.
“We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great,” the tweet read.
Obama’s Press Secretary, Josh Earnest said the case showed how stereotypes could cloud the judgment of even the most good-hearted people.
“It’s clear that at least some of Ahmed’s teachers failed him,” Earnest said in a statement.
“That’s too bad, but it’s not too late for all of us to use this as a teachable moment and to search our own conscience for biases in whatever form they take.”
The White House also extended the teen an invitation to speak with NASA scientists and astronauts at an astronomy night.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also extending an open invitation to visit and told Ahmed to “keep building.”
“Having the skill and ambition to build something cool should lead to applause, not arrest,” Mr Zuckerberg wrote on Twitter.
“The future belongs to people like Ahmed.”
The support for Ahmed was overwhelming, with a Twitter hashtag #IStandWithAhmed trending globally.
Irving’s Police Chief announced on Wednesday (local time) that charges would not be filed against Ahmed.
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.
— President Obama (@POTUS) September 16, 2015
At a joint press conference with Chief Boyd said the device was “certainly suspicious in nature”, the The Dallas Morning News reported.
“The follow-up investigation revealed the device apparently was a homemade experiment, and there’s no evidence to support the perception he intended to create alarm,” Chief Boyd said.
Asked at the press conference if the teen’s religious beliefs factored into his arrest, Chief Boyd said the reaction “would have been the same” under any circumstances.
“We live in an age where you can’t take things like that to school,” he said.
“Of course we’ve seen across our country horrific things happen, so we have to err on the side of caution.”
“The student showed the device to a teacher, who was concerned that it was possibly the infrastructure for a bomb,” Boyd said.
The newspaper said Ahmed had been suspended from school, while the Council on American-Islamic Relations was concerned by the incident.