Texas teenager Ahmed Mohamed was arrested on 14 September for bringing a home-made clock to school after his teacher mistook it for a hoax bomb. Over the next 72 hours the 14-year-old Sudanese-American's story as circulated the web, with people from all corners of the globe coming forward to support him. The Hashtag #IStandWithAhmed quickly began trending on Wednesday morning (16 September), with President Obama, Hilary Clinton, and Mark Zuckerberg also joining in.
"I build the clock to impress my teacher, but when I showed her she thought it was a threat to her"
In an interview on Dallas Morning News, Ahmed said that the experience had made him feel like he "wasn't human" and that "it made me feel like a criminal". He went on to describe how he only wanted to take his home-made clock to school to impress his teacher, but felt disheartened by the fact that his invention was confiscated.
"I felt like a criminal, I felt like a terrorist"
Police then arrived at Irving MacArthur High School and Ahmed was interrogated by five police officers, during which he said he was not allowed to contact his parents. He was transported to the juvenile detention centre in handcuffs, where his fingerprints and mugshots were taken.
"I went viral"
As news spread about the teen's arrest, people began taking to social media to criticise the school and the police's actions. A Palestinian woman started the Twitter Hashtag #IStandWithAhmed and Twitter profile @IStandWithAhmed was created to post updates about what was happening to Ahmed. The profile now has over 91,000 followers.
Ahmed's sister was quick to begin posting information about the unfolding situation through friends on social media and a photograph of Ahmed in handcuffs began going viral. It wasn't long before prominent figures from the world of politics and technology began to take notice, with some big names reaching out to lend their support.
Hillary Clinton was among the first, telling Ahmed to "keep building", while Barak Obama went so far as to invite the budding inventor to the White House, calling his invention "cool". However, the highlight for Ahmed most certainly was Mark Zuckerberg's invite to Facebook.
"I guess everybody knows I'm the person who built a clock and got in a lot of trouble for it"
On Wednesday (16 September) Ahmed held his very first press conference outside his house. The teenager was beaming as he addressed the journalists, saying that he was scared but now he was very happy. He went on to thank his supporters on social media who had helped bring the attention to a global audience and said he was happy that figures like President Obama and Hilary Clinton were getting involved in the discussion. He smiled as he confirmed that he would be accepting President Obama's invitation to visit the White House.
"It doesn't bother me that the school didn't apologise"
Ahmed was met with cheers from the crowd as he said he was going to be transferring schools. When asked if he was upset that the school had not apologised, he said that the support from his followers on social media was an apology enough. He also said that he would not be accepting the school's invitation to meet with them and that he would not be meeting the police without his lawyer. Ahmed remained suspended from school until Thursday, despite the police dropping charges against him.
MacArthur High School has said they would welcome the teenager back but insisted that the teacher's actions were justified given the circumstances and that they were "proud" of the teacher for handling the situation the way that she did. Ahmed said no decision had been made about which school he would be transferring to.
"Go for it, don't let people change who you are – show them your talent"
As Ahmed encouraged other children like himself to keep following their dreams, the teenager has received numerous opportunities for him to follow his, with Silicon Valley and leading scientists fighting over his talent. Twitter, Google, Reddit and even Ahmed's favourite organisation, Nasa, have reached out to him via social media. He was also extended a surprise invitation to visit MIT – his dream school – and tour the campus, while singer NeYo offered Ahmed the chance to break into the music industry if the teen ever had a change of heart.
"I want [the clock] back with my humility"
Ahmed said that the police still had his home-made clock and that he wanted it back. He also spoke about hoping that this will translate into a movement to put a stop to similar incidents to his that happen in other parts of the world.
Ahmed said: "Now that I have come this far I will try my best, not only to help [myself], but to help every other kid who has a problem like this." He encouraged other budding inventors to show the world their inventions even if they get criticised for it. The incident has raised questions about anti-Islam sentiment in the United States, and Ahmed was even mentioned during the Republican presidential debate.