A Texas teenager taken away in handcuffs this week for bringing to his Dallas-area school a homemade clock that staff mistook for a bomb won a personal invitation from President Barack Obama on Wednesday to visit the White House.
Ahmed Mohamed, 14, was accused of making a hoax bomb, police in Irving said. The Council on American-Islamic Relations said he is Muslim and the case serves as an example of the climate of hate and manufactured fear around the religion.
A hand made clock made by teenager Ahmed Mohamed. (AFP)
The bespectacled Mohamed is a ninth grader who was led away in handcuffs and a NASA T-shirt from MacArthur High School on Monday for a project he put together to impress his new high school classmates and teachers.
On Wednesday, he became an Internet sensation.
More than 1 million people have taken to Twitter to support Ahmed Mohamed.
"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," a message on US President Barack Obama's Twitter feed said.
14-year-old Ahmed Ahmed Mohamed speaks during a news conference on September 16, 2015 in Irving, Texas. (AFP)
The White House invited Mohamed to participate in its astronomy night next month with NASA astronauts and other young people, spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.
"In this instance, it's clear that at least some of Ahmed's teachers failed him. That's too bad," he said.
Mohamed told a news conference in front of his house that he was going to Washington for the White House Astronomy Night.
Hillary Clinton tweeted: "Assumptions and fear don't keep us safe—they hold us back. Ahmed, stay curious and keep building."
In this Sept. 14, 2015 photo provided by Eyman Mohamed, her brother Ahmed Mohamed stands in handcuffs at Irving police department in Irving, Texas. (AP)
Peter Shankman had a word of caution: "By the way: Arresting smart 9th graders isn't how you stop terrorists. It's how you CREATE THEM. #IStandWithAhmed."
Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg also invited the teenager to drop by his California-based company.
He wrote on Facebook, "You’ve probably seen the story about Ahmed, the 14 year old student in Texas who built a clock and was arrested when he took it to school.
"Having the skill and ambition to build something cool should lead to applause, not arrest. The future belongs to people like Ahmed."
Ahmed, if you ever want to come by Facebook, I'd love to meet you. Keep building."
Ahmed Ahmed Mohamed is comforted by his father Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, as they attend a news conference on September 16, 2015 in Irving, Texas. (AP)
Ahmed tweeted his gratitude: "Thank you for your support! I really didn't think people would care about a muslim boy. #Thankyouforstandingwithme #IStandWithAhmed."
"I built the clock to impress my teacher but when I showed it to her, she thought it was a threat to her. It was really sad that she took the wrong impression of it and I got arrested for it later that day," he said.
The teenager who dabbles in robotics said he was encouraged by the social media support, loved to invent things and will be looking to transfer to a different high school.
The clock, which had a digital display and circuit board, was in the possession of police, he said.
Police said no charges have been filed and they considered the case closed.
Mohamed was handcuffed and taken to a detention center where he was fingerprinted and had mug shots taken. He was freed when his parents came for him.
Police said the device was in a case and could be mistaken for a bomb. Police spokesman James McLellan said Mohamed's religion had nothing to do with their response.
Two school police officers initially questioned the student and he told them he had built a clock.
"He didn't explain properly what it was and they felt compelled to arrest him," McLellan said.