By BRIANA SCOTT
On the heels of the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, a 14-year-old Texas high school student, Ahmed Mohamed, was arrested for bringing a home-made clock to school. He was arrested by five police officers and interrogated for more than an hour. During the interrogation, Mohamed was not allowed to call his parents.
Police and officials state that Mohamed was pulled out of class and arrested because they believed his home-made clock was actually a bomb. However, as this story begins to gather more attention from the media and the public, doubts are surfacing in regards to the motives of the police and school officials.
Casting the most doubt for most people is the fact that if police and school officials truly believed that Mohamed had a bomb, why didn’t they evacuate the school? Why didn’t they call the bomb squad?
Mohamed’s parents immigrated from Sudan and are Muslims. Mohamed’s parents believe that their son was targeted due to his race and religion. And people on social media agree as well. After Mohmaed’s arrest, the hashtags #IStandWithAhmed and #EngineersForAhmed were retweeted and included in hundreds of thousands of posts and tweets.
Adding more flames to the fire, at a rally held by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, one of his supporters stated that the current president, Barack Obama, is Muslim. Instead of correcting or disputing the supporter’s claim, Trump only shook his head in agreement. The supporter then went on to perpetuate negative stereotypes against people practicing the religion stating that there are Muslim people building camps to kill us all.
Negative sentiments against those who practice Islam and are of Middle-Eastern or African descent cannot be traced to one source. However, for most Americans, Islamophobia (dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims) stemmed from the 9/11 attacks in 2001. And the fear of Muslims is still being propagated and perpetuated among several news organizations. With the rise of ISIS, fear-mongering has increased on several news platforms, in particular Fox News.
As journalists, we have a responsibility to report what is going on in our world. However, I believe that several news organizations have crossed the line between objective reporting and fear-mongering. Inaccurate coverage of terrorism has lead people to fear all Muslims, which is a detriment to society. Mohamed is a bright young man who has the potential to contribute something great to our country. Yet instead of embracing his talents, we assumed that because he is Muslim, he must also be a terrorist because of what we have been programmed to believe.