Support pours in for Texas teen suspended over clock

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IRVING, Texas (AP) -- Encouragement poured in from across the nation for a 14-year-old Muslim boy whose homemade electronic clock led to his detention and suspension from school, with President Barack Obama, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and a NASA scientist among those offering support.

As word spread that Ahmed Mohamed had been placed in handcuffs after coming to class with the clock that officials at his suburban Dallas school thought resembled a bomb, the teen became a star on social media, with the hashtag (hash)IStandWithAhmed tweeted more than 1 million times by Wednesday night. Many also took to social media to criticize police and officials at MacArthur High School, suspecting them of overreacting because of the boy's religion. Officials say the boy's religion was not a factor.

In a tweet, Obama called Ahmed's clock "cool" and said more kids should be inspired like him to enjoy science, because "it's what makes America great."

Ahmed was invited to participate in an astronomy night the White House is organizing sometime next month with premier scientists.

In a post to his site, Zuckerberg said, "Having the skill and ambition to build something cool should lead to applause."

"Ahmed, if you ever want to come by Facebook, I'd love to meet you," Zuckerberg posted. "Keep building."

You've probably seen the story about Ahmed, the 14 year old student in Texas who built a clock and was arrested when he...

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday, September 16, 2015


Bobak Ferdowsi, a science planner engineer on NASA's Cassini space probe to Saturn, joined in. In a tweet, Ferdowsi said, "I can't imagine if be working (at)nasa today if anything like this had ever happened to me." He later tweeted, "Hey Ahmed, give me a call in a couple years. We could always use smart, curious & creative people."



Ahmed's father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, a Sudanese immigrant, said at a press conference in front of his family's home that he was moved by the support for his son. He said Ahmed is an electronics whiz who repairs the family's clocks and phones.

"I am grateful to the United States of America," he said, attributing the widespread support to "something that was touching the heart for everybody."

Ahmed was pulled from class Monday and taken to a detention center after showing the digital clock to teachers at his school in Irving.

Irving Police Chief Larry Boyd said the clock looked "suspicious in nature," but said there was no evidence the boy meant to cause alarm at school. Boyd considers the case closed.

He said the reaction to the clock "would have been the same regardless" of Ahmed's religion.

"We live in an age where you can't take things like that to school," Boyd said.

See photos of Ahmed and his clock:

19 PHOTOS
Ahmed Mohamed 14 year old student arrested for bringing a clock to school
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Support pours in for Texas teen suspended over clock
Ahmed Mohamed, 14, gestures as he arrives to his family's home in Irving, Texas, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015. Ahmed was arrested Monday at his school after a teacher thought a homemade clock he built was a bomb. He remains suspended and said he will not return to classes at MacArthur High School. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Ahmed Mohamed (2-L), a 14-year-old Sudanese Muslim teenager from the United States who became an overnight sensation after a Texas teacher mistook his homemade clock for a bomb, looks on during an interview in the capital Khartoum on October 15, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ASHRAF SHAZLY (Photo credit should read ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 27: Student Ahmed Mohamed (L) and National Geographic Society CEO Gary Knell attend the Social Good Summit at the 92nd Street Y on September 27, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Mark Sagliocco/Getty Images for Global Goals)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 26: Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (R) and Sare Davutoglu (L) take a selfie with 14-year-old Muslim boy Ahmed Mohamed (C) arrested for bringing a homemade clock what school officials and police described as a hoax bomb on campus in New York on September 26, 2015. (Photo by Hakan Goktepe/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Ahmed Mohamed, 14, talks on a cell phone outside his family's home in Irving, Texas, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015. Ahmed was arrested Monday at his school after a teacher thought a homemade clock he built was a bomb. He remains suspended and said he will not return to classes at MacArthur High School. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
IRVING, TX - SEPTEMBER 17: Ahmed Mohamed, a Texas Muslim teen arrested after taking his homemade clock to school, explains his clock at his house in Irving, Texas on September 17, 2015. A Texas Muslim teen arrested after taking his homemade clock to school, on Wednesday accepted an invitation by President Barack Obama to show off his invention at the White House. (Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
IRVING, TX - SEPTEMBER 16: Ahmed Ahmed Mohamed is comforted by his father Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, as they attend a news conference on September 16, 2015 in Irving, Texas. Mohammed was detained after a high school teacher falsely concluded that a homemade clock he brought to class might be a bomb. The news converence, held outside the Mohammed family home, was hosted by the North Texas Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. (Photo by Ben Torres/Getty Images)
IRVING, TX - SEPTEMBER 16: 14-year-old Ahmed Ahmed Mohamed stands with his father Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed during a news conference on September 16, 2015 in Irving, Texas. Mohammed was detained after a high school teacher falsely concluded that a homemade clock he brought to class might be a bomb. The news converence, held outside the Mohammed family home, was hosted by the North Texas Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. (Photo by Ben Torres/Getty Images)
Ahmed Mohamed, 14, right, waves to the media from the front door of his house as his sister, Eyman Mohamed, looks on before a news conference, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, in Irving, Texas. Ahmed was arrested after a teacher thought a homemade clock he built was a bomb. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)
IRVING, TX - SEPTEMBER 16: 14-year-old Ahmed Ahmed Mohamed speaks during a news conference on September 16, 2015 in Irving, Texas. Mohammed was detained after a high school teacher falsely concluded that a homemade clock he brought to class might be a bomb. The news converence, held outside the Mohammed family home, was hosted by the North Texas Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. (Photo by Ben Torres/Getty Images)
IRVING, TX - SEPTEMBER 16: 14-year-old Ahmed Ahmed Mohamed, surrounded by his family, speaks during a news conference on September 16, 2015 in Irving, Texas. Mohammed was detained after a high school teacher falsely concluded that a homemade clock he brought to class might be a bomb. The news converence, held outside the Mohammed family home, was hosted by the North Texas Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. (Photo by Ben Torres/Getty Images)
IRVING, TX - SEPTEMBER 16: 14-year-old Ahmed Ahmed Mohamed is greeted by a supporter during a news conference on September 16, 2015 in Irving, Texas. Mohammed was detained after a high school teacher falsely concluded that a homemade clock he brought to class might be a bomb. The news converence, held outside the Mohammed family home, was hosted by the North Texas Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. (Photo by Ben Torres/Getty Images)
IRVING, TX - SEPTEMBER 16: (L-R) Attorney Linda Moreno, Ahmed Ahmed Mohamed, and Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed address the media during a news conference on September 16, 2015 in Irving, Texas. Mohammed, 14, was detained after a high school teacher falsely concluded that a homemade clock he brought to class might be a bomb. The news converence, held outside the Mohammed family home, was hosted by the North Texas Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. (Photo by Ben Torres/Getty Images)
Irving MacArthur High School student Ahmed Mohamed, 14, poses for a photo at his home in Irving, Texas on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015. Mohamed was arrested and interrogated by Irving Police officers on Monday after bringing a homemade clock to school. Police don't believe the device is dangerous, but say it could be mistaken for a fake explosive. He was suspended from school for three days, but he has not been charged. (Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News via AP) 
Ahmed's sister told me to post this. Yes this situation is real for those questioning. http://t.co/Oxd0JxUS6O
This photo provided by the Irving Police Department shows the homemade clock that Ahmed Mohamed brought to school, Wednesday, Sept.16, 2015, in Irving. Police detained the 14-year-old Muslim boy after a teacher at MacArthur High School decided that the homemade clock he brought to class looked like a bomb, according to school and police officials. The family of Ahmed Mohamed said the boy was suspended for three days from the school in the Dallas suburb. (Irving Police via AP)
IRVING, TX - SEPTEMBER 16: Israa Abdellah, 17, a student at Jack E. Singley Academy in Irving, Texas, holds a sign in support of Ahmed Ahmed Mohammed on September 16, 2015 in Irving, Texas. Mohammed was detained after a high school teacher falsely concluded that a homemade clock he brought to class might be a bomb. The news converence, held outside the Mohammed family home, was hosted by the North Texas Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. (Photo by Ben Torres/Getty Images)
A sign lights up as a student stands by before classes star at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015. Ahmed Mohamed, 14, was arrested at the school after a teacher thought a homemade clock he built was a bomb. The student remains suspended from attending classes today and it is unsure if he will return. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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Ahmed was still suspended by school officials. He said Wednesday that his family is looking for a new school for him after he was placed in handcuffs.

"I built the clock to impress my teacher, but when I showed it to her, she thought it was a threat to her. So it was really sad she took the wrong impression of it," Ahmed said at the press conference.

School district spokeswoman Lesley Weaver declined to confirm the suspension, citing privacy laws. Weaver insisted school officials were concerned with student safety and not the boy's faith.

Police have an "outstanding relationship" with the Muslim community in Irving, Boyd said, adding that he planned to meet the boy's father to address any concerns.

This spring, the city council endorsed one of several bills under discussion in the Texas Legislature that would forbid judges from rulings based on "foreign laws" - legislation opponents view as unnecessary and driven by anti-Muslim sentiment.

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Warren contributed from Dallas.

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