Ahmed Mohamed and the Clock

Posted on December 12, 2015 by


Everyone has bias, some being intentional and some not. If you look closely at any type of work, it can be visible, especially in coverage over events that gain national attention.

This event sparked both national and international interest, so there is much to look into on how these different events all portrayed this event and what may be causing them to portray it like this.

The first sources that I am going to start with some written articles. In no particular order, I will summarize the feel of the articles and how they present the situation, Ahmed and his family, and their religion. Additionally, other factors that have to do with how “attached” the writing is with Ahmed being a human being through and through in it or just cold hard facts will be considered.

First is how CNN presents this event in this article here.

This article is first off presents this situation in an obscured light, almost as if the authors couldn’t exactly believe how the event ended in arrest. They started out with describing Ahmed’s situation and how he’s just a teenager in high school who loves engineering and was looking to get praised for his creation. Instead, it ended in punishment. Then they bring up all of the social media backing he got, most being from Twitter. It starts with the President as it was the most important tweet received given the position the president has, along with the various hashtags that show support towards the teen and criticism towards the school. The rest of the tweets quoted or people quoted show overwhelming support and criticism towards the authorities for his treatment, as well as offering him visits to many influential businesses or programs of science.   Then, after bringing up the reaction of the father seeing his son and what the mayor responded with, then the religious aspect of this event is examined, with Ahmed being Muslim and how this is likely why the reaction to his clock was what it was. The title of this section is straight to the point that it implies that people think Muslims are terrorists. It went on to give the full context of the title, a quote from the father on why his son was treated this way and how this was not right. The way this article talks about Ahmed and how it presented tweets in between their paragraphs criticizing the way he was treated shows that these authors believe that this is a terrible event and how he has been treated was a terrible result of anti-Muslim feelings from many people.

Next is an article from The Big Story:

This article is very short and feels very distant from the event, with the author simply just presenting facts in his eyes. They introduce Ahmed in a different picture than the one usually used– the one with him in handcuffs– instead they presenting him smiling and throwing a peace sign (see below). The author seems to be mildly partial when it comes to who he backs, as included quotes were only of the police and one of the largest Muslim groups implying that they did not fault the police for their actions, but politicians for spreading fear, although not directly quoted. It is hard to say whether this quote is real or not because there is no link or direct quote from them, so that has to be taken with a grain of salt. It also seemed to be curving around the talk that this may be caused by religious prejudice, although they relate that Ahmed is Muslim and that a Muslim group does not fault the police. It simply did nothing with this line of thought however, seeming as if he put that line there to push this story away from the possible Islamophobia in this matter.



This news article comes from a news agency in Britain and is a video with a summary of the background information for understanding this short video. Ahmed explained why he was arrested andthat the charges were dropped.When he explains that he is thinking about switching schools, people cheer and support. Some questions asked related to the legal matters like “did they allow you a lawyer when you where questioned?” and “Are you still suspended from the school?” This news segment was without a voice over, which just let him talk without other views and opinions inserted, essentially giving him free reign of his appearance in the video.

New York Times article:

This article suggested that the event that occurred — Ahmed’s arrest– was a good thing because of the opportunities that came from it. The authors do a good job of humanizing Ahmed by describing him more as a kid and his hobbies with why he made this clock. They don’t separate the fact that he is Muslim from the information given, they brought up the fact that they said an Arabic greeting of peace to the interviewers at the front of the house and then later brought up how his arrest was due to Islamophobia in America, specifically in this physical area with ways the mayor has acted. At the end of this article, it was hopeful for the future and how that people can learn from this event, ending it with a quote from Ahmed about not being discouraged by people. An article like this can leave people the sense that this innocent kid had to deal with events kids don’t normally experience while coming out of it okay with support from many.

Fox News:

This article had a passive-aggressive tone, as if the author was implying a questionable nature of the event. The author brought up how Shariah law is super strict over there and that it is quite away from Texas. She then brought in a linguist from the US army that had a doctorate in Islamic Studies to explain how strict the Shariah Law actually it and how he wouldn’t be able to bring a fake bomb to school. He then detailed how Qatar wouldn’t be the best place for this kid and how more intolerant of religion in general this place was now. When people read this article, they likely are going to be think how terrible the place is and question why is he going there. The articles idea also reinforces a misconception that all these areas are very violent, whether that idea is truthful or not. It seems to also blame Ahmed for the fact that there was an outburst over this arrest and that procedures will change so that its somehow more dangerous “political correctness will open the door for future attacks”. The article also implies a cycle of people wanting the news to continue to broadcast want their ideas, violent Muslims, and how media continues this idea by showing those facts.

The Washington Post:

This article is in support of Ahmed’s actions and talked about how much support he got plus a quote about he thought that this wouldn’t happen. Then the article explained the events from his point of view with a lot of quotes on what happened including the amount of time from when the the clock was taken and to his arrest. The authors brought up the Islamophobia of the matter in a quote of where the officer said“That’s who I thought it was” to Ahmed. Afterwards, the picture of him in handcuffs (see below) was shown and noted how he was not allowed to call his parents. The article then quotes the mayor about she doesn’t fault the police, but would be upset if this happened to her child. More Islamophobia that Ahmed faced was shown sharing slurs he was called in middle school and how these negatively impacted him, making him think they were true. The mood then was brightened by stating how much the amount of support means to the family, especially the father. This article wants people to see that this is a sad situation that occurred due of Islamophobia and wants people support of Ahmed, making the story turn out for the better.


The Guardian:

The Guardian presented this event overwhelming in favor of Ahmed and almost ridiculed the authorities whenever mentioned . Like the articles title notes, the police insisted that they are right and Ahmed went off to see the president. They also didn’t use the word bomb in reference to his clock until they were bringing up the police as well as the mayors information backing the reason for arrest and why the homemade clock was an object of suspicion.

The Nightly Show:

The title of the episode itself is very supportive of Ahmed Mohamed carrying his supportive hashtag: “#IStandWithAhmed” as well as use the term controversial in context with his arrest. Right at the start, the media source gave the impression that this was going to fully support Ahmed. Larry Wilmore called him a poor kid, gave him a correct term for his age as well as bringing up the course of events. He also brought up the picture of Ahmed handcuffed, confused, and angry at the camera, the picture that went viral. Then the Police video of how the questioning went was shown, with the episode showing how confused Larry was with him remarking that it was just a clock so there wasn’t anything else forthcoming in the questioning. The way that this video was brought across is sarcastic and exaggerated, being able to help some people get the point of the video that this is really odd situation that sadly came about due to anti-Muslim ideas.

The Rolling Stone:

The Rolling Stones article is basically an article over the Nightly Show episode where they have Ahmed Mohamed on for an interview. (Embedded below to watch) This seemed to mimic the sentiments in the last Nightly Show support wise and the way they tried to keep this in a light-hearted manner. Since some of the information was presented in a joking manner that somewhat made it more shocking, like how Ahmed joked that when they shoved his arm behind his back to handcuff him, it was like doing the nae-nae backwards. This article and episode of the Nightly Show appeared to be getting across that things are all better and we can joke about them because he is innocent and the world knows it.

This project was done by Rachel Muckenhaupt

Works Cited

Ashley Fantz, Muslim teen Ahmed Mohamed creates clock, shows teachers, gets arrested”, CNN, 9/16/15 (http://www.cnn.com/2015/09/16/us/texas-student-ahmed-muslim-clock-bomb/index.html)

Unkown Author, “Police reviewing response to Muslim boy with clock at school”, Big Story, 9/18/15 (http://bigstory.ap.org/article/0c279424959b42bfadfe9e596c9b2891/police-reviewing-response-muslim-boy-clock-school)

Unkown Author, “Ahmed Mohamed: Homemade clock boy to change schools”, BBC, 9/16/15 (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-34275166)

Handcuffed for Making Clock, Ahmed Mohamed, 14, Wins Time With Obama”, New York Times, 9/16/15 (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/17/us/texas-student-is-under-police-investigation-for-building-a-clock.html)

Hollie McKay,”Alarm bell: Texas’ ‘Clock Boy’ may not enjoy time in Qatar”, Fox News, 10/23/15 (http://www.foxnews.com/world/2015/10/23/alarm-bell-texas-clock-boy-may-not-enjoy-time-in-qatar/)

Sarah Kaplan and Abby Phillip,”‘They thought it was a bomb’: 9th-grader arrested after bringing a home-built clock to school”, Washington Post, 9/16/15 (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/09/16/they-thought-it-was-a-bomb-ahmed-mohamed-texas-9th-grader-arrested-after-bringing-a-home-built-clock-to-school/)

Jessica Glenza and Nicky Woolf, “Texas schoolboy arrested over clock to visit Obama as authorities defend action”, Guardian, 9/17/15 (http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/sep/16/homemade-clock-ahmed-mohamed-texas-officials-we-were-right)

Larry Wilmore, “#IStandWithAhmed – Ahmed Mohamed’s Controversial Arrest”, Nightly Show, 9/16/15 (http://www.cc.com/video-clips/q2lpiy/the-nightly-show-with-larry-wilmore–istandwithahmed—ahmed-mohamed-s-controversial-arrest)

Jon Blistein, “Ahmed Mohamed Explains ‘Really Simple’ Clock on ‘Nightly Show'”, Rolling Stones, 9/24/15 (http://www.rollingstone.com/tv/news/ahmed-mohamed-explains-really-simple-clock-on-nightly-show-20150924)

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