US President Barack Obama has issued a White House invitation to a Muslim schoolboy who was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school.
Ninth-grade high school student Ahmed Mohamed from Irving in Texas was arrested on Monday after his teachers reported him to the police for making a clock , which they said resembled a bomb.
“Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great,” Obama tweeted.
The arrest prompted outrage on social media with thousands expressing their anger at authorities for arresting a 14-year-old boy over his school project.
Social media users rallied behind the teen using the hashtag #IStandWithAhmed , which has picked up more than 500,000 mentions on Twitter so far, according to analytics site Topsy, and continues to rise rapidly.
The story also ranked highest on the user-generated curation website, Reddit.
Many of the comments cited Mohamed’s religious and ethnic background as the probable cause of his arrest, a viewpoint shared by the largest Muslim civil advocacy group in the US.
Ibrahim Hooper, the spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), told Al Jazeera that it was “obvious” the school boy’s religion had played a role in his arrest.
“We believe the arrest would not have occurred if the student had not been Muslim…the school’s reaction and that of the police stems from the fact that he is a Muslim,” Hooper said.
“It is a symptom of growing Islamophobia that a 14-year-old was handcuffed and dragged away for doing a science project.”
Mohamed, who is of Sudanese background, drew support from a number of high profile African-American personalities including talk-show host Montel Williams and rapper Talib Kweli Greene.