Ahmed Mohamed, 14, a freshman at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas, had a mind for gadgetry and a great idea: he would build his own working clock and take it to school on Monday to show an engineering teacher. "It was the first time," he said, "I brought an invention to school to show a teacher." But everything went terribly, terribly wrong: Islamophobic teachers took his innocuous clock for a bomb and went so far as to have him arrested. All is well now, however, as the civil rights group CAIR and Barack Obama have stepped in, Ahmed's persecutors have egg on their racist faces, and Ahmed has been invited to the White House.
That's the narrative that was everywhere Wednesday (Vox's headline was typical of the spin: "Muslim ninth grader arrested for bringing an electronics project to school"), but as with so many such stories, it is full of holes.
His clock, a busy gadget of circuits and wires without either a conventional clock face or a digital display, looked more like a bomb than like a clock. Irving police said that Ahmed carried his homemade clock to school in a briefcase; once there, he plugged it in during English class, and it began making noise.