Ahmed Mohamed, famous across the country as “Clock Boy,” will be moving from the U.S. to Qatar. His family made the announcement Tuesday, just one day after his much-anticipated meeting with President Barack Obama.
“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 on-going dedication to empowering young people and fostering a culture of innovation and creativity,” the family said in a statement. Ahmed will receive a full-tuition scholarship to attend school in Qatar. His parents and two sisters will be moving as well. (RELATED: Qatar Forced Slaves To Run Marathon Shoeless)
The family’s statement included one comment from Ahmed himself.
“I loved the city of Doha because it’s so modern,” he said. “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 became a national sensation when the story circulated that he was arrested and suspended from his Irving, Texas, school after his homemade clock was mistaken for a bomb. Obama invited him to the White House, he received a huge set of tech goodies from Microsoft, and he was invited to Google’s California headquarters based on his reputation as a young inventor. Mohamed’s saga is treated as an emblematic case of American ignorance and Islamophobia holding back an inventive young mind.
But over time, mounting criticisms have been levied against the Mohamed family. Techies pointed out that Mohamed’s “homemade” clock was really just a commercial clock with its casing removed. Others suggested Ahmed may have deliberately provoked the incident by repeatedly plugging in his clock in class even after being told not to.
More recently, the Mohameds attracted criticism when they met with Omar al-Bashir, the president of Sudan who is best known for overseeing genocide in the Darfur region. (RELATED: Clock Boy Plans Detour To Mecca Before Meeting Obama)
The family says adapting to Qatar won’t be so difficult.
“Qatar is in the Arab world, but it also feels like Texas. It’s like Texas in Qatar,” said Ahmed’s sister Eyman.
But Qatar is in fact quite different from Texas. The country’s human rights record is positively appalling. It’s also an absolute monarchy ruled by a Al-Thani family, promised parliamentary elections have never been held, and the country is run on Sharia law. Qatar has been rated as having the fourth-highest concentration of slave laborers in the world. (RELATED: BBC Journalists Jailed For Telling Truth About Qatar)
Freedom of speech is sharply limited in the country as well. In 2011, for instance, poet Mohammed Rashid al-Ajami was sentenced to life in prison for insulting the country’s emir, though the sentence was later reduced to a mere 15 years. The country also prohibits non-Muslim missionary activities and restricts the public worship of non-Muslims, a noted contrast to the softer “Islamophobia” the Mohameds have encountered in America.