Tech Industry Stands With Ahmed - InformationWeek

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9/16/2015
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Tech Industry Stands With Ahmed

The Texas student detained for bringing a homemade clock to his high school has won the support of technology and political leaders.

NASA's New Horizons Transmits New Pluto, Charon Images
NASA's New Horizons Transmits New Pluto, Charon Images
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Technology industry executives and President Obama made it clear that they don't support the arrest of a Texas teen for tinkering, an activity they view as key to improving science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.

On Monday, Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old Muslim student at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas, was detained for bringing a "suspicious-looking device" to school.

The suspicious-looking device turned out to be a science project: A handmade digital clock. According to local ABC affiliate WFAA, the Dallas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said Ahmed was arrested because of his religious and racial identity.

(Image: Irving Police Department)

(Image: Irving Police Department)

A letter sent out on Tuesday by Principal Dan Cummings acknowledged the arrest and, despite finding no cause for alarm, cautioned parents to review school policies. "We will always take necessary precautions to protect our students," wrote Cummings.

Such protection amounts to guns at institutions of higher education. Over the summer, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott expanded local gun laws to allow concealed handguns on college campuses.

The clock did not, as school officials initially feared, explode. But social media did.

A press conference was held by the school district and the Irving Police Department to justify their actions. Afterward, President Barack Obama, via Twitter, invited the Texas student, since released, to Washington. "Cool clock, Ahmed," President Obama said in a tweet. "Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It's what makes America great."

NASA added its voice, tweeting that it supports STEM education and kids like Ahmed.

[ See what happens when technology meets forest fires. Read Using Data To Fight Wildfires: An Inside Look. ]

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, the world's largest social media network, condemned the arrest. "Having the skill and ambition to build something cool should lead to applause, not arrest," he wrote in a Facebook post. "The future belongs to people like Ahmed."

Zuckerberg added that if Mohamed ever wants to stop by Facebook, he'd be happy to meet.

Box CEO Aaron Levie chimed in with an invitation to visit his company. And many others, like Anil Dash, an early supporter of Ahmed's cause, voiced similar expressions of support.

Hillary Clinton, Democratic candidate for president, in a tweet said, "Assumptions and fear don't keep us safe -- they hold us back. Ahmed, stay curious and keep building."

The Irving Independent School District acknowledged the arrest on its website but offered few details, citing privacy laws. On Wednesday, the district said it felt media reports were unfair. The district said it will provide further information to the media if the family consents.

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful ... View Full Bio

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tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
11/4/2015 | 11:06:28 AM
Re: If Secret Service OKs Ahmed, maybe, Irving School officials should
The problem with the media giving terrorists coverage that you mention is spot on. Between their ability to recruit and post "news" via social media and the coverage and notoriety that regular media gives them, they have a platform that attracts copycats and people who sympathise with them. In the case of the lone wolf criminals, they revel in the coverage by the media of their crimes. It reminds me of very long ago when i used to watch baseball games and some idiots would run on to the field and disrupt the game, the television cameras would show them and the announcers would comment and have a laugh. After a while that was stopped. Now when someone runs on to the field, the cameras do not show it and the announcers say nothing other than someone is on the field. It cut down to almost zero these incidents.
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
11/4/2015 | 10:40:36 AM
Re: If Secret Service OKs Ahmed, maybe, Irving School officials should

@tjgkg may be you are right. I feel that the terrorist are winning the war by creating doubts in our mind and changing the overall thinking of the society. Few decades back these kind of activities and incidents are raely surfaced or reporetd but media has given the way of expressions to the culprits and they are using it to capture the minds of general public and inculcating fear in that which is evident from these incidents. I agree with you there.

tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
11/4/2015 | 10:30:30 AM
Re: If Secret Service OKs Ahmed, maybe, Irving School officials should
I think we all do not know everything that took place so it is hard to make an informed comment. All i can say is based on the shootings at schools, there has been an increase in zero tolerance security. And because of this, there has been less use of common sense. Not that there had been a lot of that in schools previously. Perhaps if someone had common sense and investigated the situation instead of "following procedures like a robot", then maybe this would have been handled differently. But i think that the powers that be at schools are ordering that employees ask zero questions for zero tolerance policies.
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
11/4/2015 | 10:25:03 AM
Re: If Secret Service OKs Ahmed, maybe, Irving School officials should

@tjgkg I agree with your point but fears that this episode might not send wrong waves to be used as a reference. I feel that security is good thing but rationalization is foremost. Do not judge every other person with same measures. There will be other better ways I believe to tackle these incidents. What do you say?

tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
11/4/2015 | 7:59:02 AM
Re: If Secret Service OKs Ahmed, maybe, Irving School officials should
I am not thrilled with what the police did to a kid. But i think these days with all the incidents that have taken place in schools, they tend to act first and ask questions later. Not saying that is right, but they are in a difficult position. Plus from what i have read, this kid has been a troublemaker in the past. So maybe that had something to do with the severity of the actions. Not sure.
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
10/18/2015 | 2:29:15 PM
Re: If Secret Service OKs Ahmed, maybe, Irving School officials should

@Tjgkg you are right there but still this does not justified the handcuffing of an innocent student. I am still wondering what police did after reaching there. They without any evidence arrested a student. Then who actually came with a surprise that its a clock and not a bomb. After this whole episode its damage control and not a succesful one in my opinion. This episode might have been averted if any one out of all involved might have acted more maturely.

tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
10/15/2015 | 2:01:05 PM
Re: If Secret Service OKs Ahmed, maybe, Irving School officials should
Since the event, there have been reports that the kid had a history of being a problem. That might have played a part in this event. However it seems to me that in schools everywhere the instruction is to call the police first and ask questions later. I am not sure that has stopped any potential catastrophe from taking place. And since that event until today, there have been additional school shootings. I do think a lot of these are based on wanting to be famous and get media coverage. In AHmed's case, he got both. Right up to the President at which point it turned into pop culture.
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
10/15/2015 | 1:54:08 PM
Re: If Secret Service OKs Ahmed, maybe, Irving School officials should
You are thinking with common sense. In schools there is little common sense these days. Everyone is on heightened alert. Now there have been reports coming out that this kid had been a troublemaker in the past. That might have played a part in the overreaction.
nasimson
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nasimson,
User Rank: Ninja
9/29/2015 | 11:47:54 PM
Re: If Secret Service OKs Ahmed, maybe, Irving School officials should
@nomii:

We are fast getting to a point where our FEAR of the OTHER is taking over our RESPECT of the OTHER!
PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
9/25/2015 | 9:27:21 PM
Re: If Secret Service OKs Ahmed, maybe, Irving School officials should
@Tjgkg.  I agree with you. Teachers and school officials could have manage the situation much better.  The collatoral damage such events can have on a school reputation is big as well.   
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