Depending on how you look at it, and the news media you choose to get your information, Irving is either losing one of its most promising young residents or bidding good riddance to a teenager and a family of troublemakers. Ahmed Mohamed, the kid who got arrested for bringing a briefcase containing either a clock he built or maybe a disassembled, old Radio Shack alarm clock to his school in Irving, is moving to Doha, Qatar.
That sound you hear is thousands of anti-Islam bigots saying "AH-HA!" at once. Ignore it.
"After careful consideration of all the generous offers received, we would like to announce that we have accepted a kind offer from Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF) for Ahmed to join the prestigious QF Young Innovators Program, which reflects the organization’s ongoing dedication to empowering young people and fostering a culture of innovation and creativity," Mohamed's father, Mohamed El Hassan, said in a Tuesday afternoon statement.
Mohamed visited the Qatar Foundation earlier in October before returning to the United States to, among other things, attend a White House reception hosted by President Obama.
“I really enjoyed my time at Education City, where I met other kids like me who are part of the Young Innovators Program. Qatar was a cool place to visit. I loved the city of Doha because it’s so modern. I saw so many amazing schools there, many of them campuses of famous American universities. The teachers were great. I think I will learn a lot and have fun too,” Mohamed said in the same statement.
The rest of the family, El Hassan said, will join Mohamed in Qatar.
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After his arrest, Mohamed never received an apology from Irving police or the city of Irving. Irving's police chief, Larry Boyd, stuck to the company line about the clock looking like something that could be dangerous. Mohamed only got cuffed, Boyd said, for his own protection. Irving's mayor, Beth Van Duyne, took things a step further when she went on Glenn Beck's TV show and didn't dispute Beck's suggestion that the family might be part of some sort of Islamist plot against the city of Irving. Van Duyne and the Irving school district have intimated there was more to the story that could be released if Mohamed's family waived their privacy rights, but that never happened. Mohamed's three-day suspension from MacArthur High School was never rescinded, nor did he ever return to the school.
Mohamed got far more support outside of his hometown. He went on national talk shows and was invited to meet Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. He was widely praised as a smart kid at the mercy of either zero-tolerance policies run wild or maybe anti-Muslim bias. From the very beginning, Mohamed stressed that he wanted to get an education out of the ordeal. Initially he mentioned wanting to go to the Texas Academy of Math and Sciences at the University of North Texas before heading to MIT. That plan, apparently, has changed.
"We are so thankful for all the wonderful and generous offers we have received from here in the U.S. and from all over the world, and we truly appreciate the support shown to Ahmed and his education, which has of course been central to our decision," El Hassan said.