One of the largest Muslim groups in Texas said Thursday that it does not fault police and school officials who handcuffed and suspended a 14-year-old Muslim boy after he brought a homemade clock to class that they mistook for a possible bomb.
Instead, Khalid Hamideh of the Islamic Association of North Texas blamed political leaders for espousing inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric and creating a "climate of fear."
"We're not pointing a finger at the school district or the police department," Hamideh said. "Under the current climate that exists in this country, you can't really blame them because when they see something like that, they have to react."
The association operates the mosque attended by the family of Ahmed Mohamed, the suburban Dallas student who became a sensation on social media after word spread about his clock and the way he was treated.
Ahmed was pulled from class Monday after he showed the device to a teacher. He was questioned by the principal and police, then handcuffed and taken to the police station.
The Muslim community is concerned that Ahmed was interrogated without a lawyer or his parents present and was led out in handcuffs, Hamideh said.
Irving Police Chief Larry Boyd has said department policy requires that handcuffs be used to protect officers and others.
Authorities declined to seek charges against the boy, saying there was no evidence he intended to cause alarm. They said he's free to retrieve his clock at the police station.
A police photo of the device shows a carrying case containing a circuit board and power supply wired to a digital display.
School district spokeswoman Lesley Weaver did not return a call for comment Thursday but previously said school administrators followed district policy, which allows staff to take action if a student has a "look-alike" weapon or engages in behaviors that "substantially disrupt or materially interfere with school activities."