A 14-year-old Texas boy arrested at school after a teacher mistook his homemade clock for a bomb won a personal invitation from President Barack Obama on Wednesday to attend an astronomy night at the White House.
Ahmed Mohamed said he enjoys electronics and put the project together to try to impress his new classmates and teachers at MacArthur High School in Irving, a Dallas suburb.
"My hobby is to invent stuff," Mohamed told The Dallas Morning News in a video it posted online.
He showed the clock, which had a digital display and a circuit board, to a teacher. The teacher heard the clock beep and notified officials.
"They took me to a room filled with five officers," Mohamed told the Morning News. They searched his belongings, handcuffed him and took him to a detention center, where he was fingerprinted and had mug shots taken. He was freed when his parents came for him.
Mohamed was not charged but was suspended from school for three days.
Police said the device was not a danger, but was in a case and could be mistaken for a bomb.
Two school police officers initially questioned the student, and he told them he had built a clock. He did not offer further explanation, "and they felt compelled to arrest him," police spokesman James McLellan said.
Mohamed is the son of Sudanese immigrants, and his father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, said the boy was singled out for suspicion because of his name, according to the paper.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations said Mohamed is a Muslim and that the case was an example of religious bigotry. The police spokesman said Mohamed's religion had nothing to do with officials' response.
A spokeswoman for the Irving Independent School District said at a news conference that school officials could not discuss the matter to protect the student's privacy.
Social media erupted with opinions and sympathy about the story using the hashtag #IStandWithAhmed. It became the No. 1 trending topic in the United States on Twitter on Wednesday with about 600,000 tweets, many critical of the school district and police.
After the uproar, even Obama tweeted about the incident.
Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It%27s what makes America great.— President Obama (@POTUS) September 16, 2015
?The White House invited Mohamed to participate in its astronomy night next month with NASA astronauts and other young people, spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.
Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg also invited the teenager to drop by his California-based company.
"Having the skill and ambition to build something cool should lead to applause, not arrest. The future belongs to people like Ahmed," he wrote on his Facebook page.
Some information for this report came from Reuters.
Here's a video from The Dallas Morning News: