"I felt like I was a terrorist, I felt like all the names I was called": 14-year old Ahmed Mohamed opens up about his arrest for building a clock

“I didn’t think I was going to get any support because I’m a Muslim boy,” the whiz kid tells MSNBC's Chris Hayes

Sophia Tesfaye
September 17, 2015 6:15PM (UTC)

Ahmed Mohamed, the 14-year-old Sudanese-American boy who was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school, described the humiliating incident in an interview on MSNBC's "All In With Chris Hayes" last night.

Ahmed, who was joined by Alia Salem, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Dallas-Fort Worth, matter-of-factly detailed his interrogation and arrest.


"I felt like I was a criminal, I felt like I was a terrorist, I felt like all the names I was called," Ahmed said, heartbreakingly explaining that he had been taunted in middle school with accusations that he was a terrorist. "In middle school I was called a terrorist, called a bomb-maker. Just because of my race and religion," he said.

Ahmed described receiving the same feeling of judgment from one of the four officers who interrogated him for nearly an hour and a half on Monday:

HAYES: Were the officers saying things like that to you?

MOHAMED: One of the officers did comment on me walking in the room.

HAYES: What did he say?

MOHAMED: He got back into a reclined chair and he relaxed, and he was like. And he said, that’s who I thought it was.

HAYES:  And what did you take that to mean?

MOHAMED: I took it to mean that he was pointing at me for what I am, my race, and he took it, he took it at me because I was a, I was just a student. I never had any contact with him, I never talked to him.

When asked how he felt about the tremendous outpouring of support he's received worldwide, Ahmed coyly smiled before answering with the refreshing honesty of an adolescent:


Before I didn’t think I was going to get any support because I’m a Muslim boy. So I thought I was just going to be another victim of injustice. But thanks to all my supporters on social media, I got this far, thanks to you guys.



I see it as a way of people sending a message to the rest of the world that just because something happens to you because of who you are, no matter what you do, people will always have your back.

Ahmed then received a surprise from MIT astrophysicist Chanda Prescod-Weinstein who offered the precocious teen a tour of both the MIT and Harvard astrophysics departments.

Watch the full interview, via MSNBC:

Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's Deputy Politics Editor and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

MORE FROM Sophia TesfayeFOLLOW @SophiaTesfaye

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