It Could Have Been A Bomb

No. No one actually thought this was a bomb. The above headline was the reason given for the arrest and detainment of 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed. His crime? Being a Muslim.

Here’s the story: an elementary school student built a clock. Pretty innocent right? He brought it to school to show his engineering teacher. His teacher was impressed. But then he showed to another teacher, who thought it was suspicious. Up to this point, nobody’s done anything wrong. There wasn’t even anything wrong with the teacher being suspicious. The problem is this: if the teacher was suspicious that the clock was a bomb, then why wasn’t the school evacuated? After all, if I thought I had a bomb, I would call the police and get the hell out of dodge.

But that didn’t happen. Ahmed was arrested several hours later. By this point in the story, the teacher and administrators are either racist, or had some sort of perverted suicide/child genocide-by-bomb scheme. I find it hard to believe that multiple administrators and police all had a suicide pact to kill themselves via a “bomb” that they had just discovered. Given that the student was “brown” and a Muslim, racism is the only explanation that’s left for his arrest and detainment.

I know everybody else will probably blog about this, but I have some VERY strong opinions on American’s perception of Muslims.

While interning in London during the summer, I stayed in an area where Muslims comprised over 20 percent of the population, according to census data. There, I was exposed to a radically different environment than I had ever been accustomed to. I was surrounded by Muslims. At first, I felt a little uncomfortable. But I soon realized that many stereotypes we have about Muslims in the U.S. aren’t true. Many Muslim women wear hijabs and veils, but many do it for modesty – of their own prerogative. It was strange at first seeing so many people with only their eyes exposed, but I got used to it. They would shop at the same grocery store I frequented, and would ride the bus and tube like everybody else. The biggest surprise came when I witnessed two Muslim women smoking outside the door of the complex where I was staying.

The part of London where I was staying didn’t have the best reputation. It wasn’t the part of town that Americans wanted to see, and I never saw any Americans staying in the area. So I would go out and talk to the locals to pass time. It turns out, Muslims are plenty friendly. They’re not all hostile to western ‘infidels.’

And this semester, both of my roommates are cousins from Oman. And they’re both Muslim. They’re just normal people like everyone else and I’ve never once felt threatened by them.

We need to face our irrational fear of Muslims. The clock is ticking, and every hour, every day, every month, Muslims are fleeing violence around the world and many are seeking refuge and opportunity on our shores. It’s time we learned to accept Muslims for who they are – not “what” they are. They’re like us: they are people.

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