Asian-American Advocates Join #IStandWithAhmed

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By Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

After 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas, Asian-American, Sikh-American, and Muslim-American advocates were prominent in the national wave of support under the hashtag #IStandWithAhmed. Mohamed, who is Sudanese-American and Muslim, has been released and will not be charged with a crime.

“This was something that never should have happened,” Alia Salem of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said at a press conference. “This young man should be celebrated and lifted up and given opportunities for his ingenuity and his brightness, not to be treated like a criminal, not to be arrested.”

“Ahmed and his talents have become victims of a culture of suspicion that we must extinguish,” Representative Judy Chu, Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said as she called for an apology and called out the costs of Islamophobia, racism, and racial profiling. “Now, because of these racist and mistrustful responses from authority figures, students like Ahmed may be too afraid to engage and further express their creativity at school. This right here is where racial profiling and Islamophobic rhetoric lead us. What a tragedy."

RELATED: Ahmed Mohamed, Teen Cuffed Over Homemade Clock, Eyes MIT

Congressman Mike Honda, a former science teacher who now represents Silicon Valley, pointed out the danger of unchecked unfounded suspicion on his Facebook page.

Advocates from the Sikh American community, which has experienced disproportionate discrimination and violence since September 11, took a lighter approach and tweeted out photographs of support and clocks.

After President Obama tweeted about Mohamed’s “cool clock,” the teen was invited to the White House for an upcoming Astronomy Night where he will meet scientists, engineers, and visionaries from astronomy and the space industry.

“Ahmed, you inspire us — and we can't wait to meet you,” wrote DJ Patil, Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Data Policy and Chief Data Scientist in the Office of Science and Technology Policy, in a heartwarming letter celebrating curiosity and learning to play with technology, “P.S. — Don’t forget your NASA shirt. I’ll be wearing mine.”