Congressman: Islamophobia--Not Suspicious Device--Led To Arrest of Muslim Teen

By Penny Starr | October 20, 2015 | 12:45pm EDT
Ahmed Mohamed, right, and Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) spoke at a Capitol Hill press conference on Oct. 20, 2015. ( Starr)

( – Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) said the arrest of Ahmed Mohamed last month at his Dallas high school after a teacher confiscated what looked like a homemade bomb in the teen’s backpack was not because of the suspicious item, but because of Islamophobia.

“This incident highlights an alarming trend of profiling Muslim Americans not only by law enforcement but in all of society as a whole, and I think we call that Islamophobia,” Honda said at a Capitol Hill press conference on Tuesday. “We need to ask the difficult questions.

“Would the same scenario have played out if a child with another name had brought this clock to school instead of Ahmed Mohamed?” said Honda, who signed a letter with 24 other Democrats demanding that Attorney General Loretta Lynch investigate the teen’s brief detention at a juvenile processing center before being released to his parents.

Police did not charge Ahmed with any crime.

“To compound these clear violations of Ahmed’s civil rights by the Irving Police Department, reports surrounding the incident strongly suggest that Ahmed Mohamed was systematically profiled based on his faith and ethnicity by both the Irving Police Department and MacArthur High School,” the Sept. 22 letter stated.

“This incident highlights an alarming trend in the profiling of Muslim Americans not only by law enforcement, but in our society as a whole,” the letter stated.

But according to the Irving Police Chief, Larry Boyd, law enforcement’s response to the device, which was discovered after an alarm was heard coming from Ahmed’s backpack, would have been handled the same no matter who was in possession of an item that was “suspicious in nature,” the Dallas Morning News reported on Sept. 15.

“Asked if the teen’s religious beliefs factored into his arrest, Boyd said the reaction ‘would have been the same’ under any circumstances,” the Dallas Morning News reported.

“We live in an age where you can’t take things like that to school,” Boyd said. “Of course we’ve seen across our country horrific things happen, so we have to err on the side of caution.

“The reaction would have been the same regardless if a device like that was found under the circumstances that it was found in this school,” Boyd said.

But Honda said at the event that Ahmed – who had been invited to visit heads of state since his arrest, including President Obama at the White House on Monday and with president of Ahmed’s home country of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, who has been accused of war crimes – was owed an apology by the mayor of Irving, the police and the high school.

“On behalf of at least folks who understand, we apologize to you, and we’re going to stand right next to you and be your ally,” Honda said.

The press was not allowed to question Ahmed or his father at the press conference

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