On Sept. 14, a 14-year-old boy came to school with a project, excited to show his teachers and fellow students the clock he had built with his own hands.
Instead, his day ended in handcuffs and being suspended from his school for coming to class with a homemade clock that school officials thought resembled a bomb, according to The Associated Press.
“I built the clock to impress my teacher, but when I showed it to her, she thought it was a threat to her,” said Ahmed Mohamed at a news conference in front of his family’s home. “So it was really sad she took the wrong impression of it.”
Police declined to seek any charges against Mohamed, but his arrest and suspension ignited a wave of criticism of the police department and the boy’s school, according to the AP.
The actions of both the school and the police department raised suspicions that both parties had acted out of prejudice and fear because of the boy’s race and religion.
“I think this wouldn’t even be a question if his name wasn’t Ahmed Mohamed,” said Alia Salem of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “He is an excited kid who is very bright and wants to share it with his teachers.”
Groups including the American Civil Liberties Union condemned the school and the type of behavior they showed toward this innocent boy.
This should not have happened.
The United States of America is supposed to be a place known for its open views and religious freedom.
Religious persecution is one of the primary reasons people fled here; preventing religious persecution was one of the primary foundations that our nation was built upon.
However, what happened to Mohamed last week displays the sad fact that religious persecution is alive and well and is leading to abhorrent behaviors.
Religious persecution is something that needs to stop immediately.
No one has the right to treat someone differently because of his or her belief system.
No one has the right to bully, belittle or berate somebody because of what they believe.
Ahmed Mohamed is not the first or the last person to be publicly harassed and humiliated for the religion they have chosen to practice.
Just this Sunday, Sept. 20, the Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said no Muslim should be president of the United States of America, according to The Guardian.
“I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation,” Carson said in an interview with NBC on Sunday morning. “I absolutely would not agree with that.”
On Sept. 20, Keith Ellison, the first Muslim ever elected to Congress, released a statement as an answer to Carson’s comments, according to The Guardian.
“For Ben Carson, Donald Trump or any other Republican politician to suggest that someone of any faith is unfit for office is out of touch with who we are as a people,” he said. “It’s unimaginable that the leading GOP presidential candidates are resorting to fearmongering to benefit their campaigns, and every American should be disturbed that these national figures are engaging in and tolerating blatant acts of religious bigotry.”
What does someone’s religion have to do with his or her ability to lead the country?
After the Josh Duggar and Ashley Madison scandal broke out, there were many who took to the Internet to criticize Christianity and call those who practice it hypocrites and liars.
On Twitter, the comments against Christiany were not only incorrect and overly broad, but were centered on issues facing the Duggars and not the religion itself.
“Molesting kids is a Christian thing. #Priests #JoshDuggar,” said @Clarknt67 in a tweet.
According to the Constitution, the First Ammendement states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The First Amendment is another reminder that we all have the freedom and the right to practice any religion we wish, and not be persecuted for it. That was the desire of our founding fathers.
“I beg you be persuaded that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution,” said George Washington in regards to religious persecution.
How you choose to worship and whom you choose to worship is something personal and something that no one has the right to comment or criticize upon.