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Ahmed, The Clockmaking U.S. Student, Visits Qatar And Saudi Arabia

Life has not quite returned to normal yet for Ahmed Mohamed, the Texas teenager who was arrested after bringing a homemade clock to school. The 14-year-old is now touring parts of the Middle East, along with his father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed.

The two were recently in New York, where they met Turkey's prime minister and other dignitaries who were in town for the U.N.'s General Assembly. That had been meant to be the end of a national tour, building on the groundswell of support for the teen — and for education in science and technology — that had emerged after his arrest and suspension from MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas.

But after receiving an invitation from the Qatar Foundation, Ahmed and his father decided to visit Doha, to tour the sprawling Education City. Funded by the Qatari government, the campus is home to students from dozens of nations and includes satellite campuses of major U.S. universities, including Northwestern and Texas A&M.

From Qatar, it's on to Saudi Arabia, where the government is hosting Ahmed and his father for an umrah — a pilgrimage to Mecca. He'll also visit relatives in Jiddah, according to Arab News.

The newspaper also recounted the incident that made Ahmed Mohamed famous — in which a teacher thought the teen's homemade digital clock looked like a bomb — reporting:

"His uncle Moussa Al-Hassan did not blame the teacher. 'The ordinary American citizen lives in a state of fear of Arabs because of the American media's portrayal of him as an extremist terrorist,' Moussa was quoted as saying at the time."

Later this year, Ahmed has said, he still wants to take up President Obama on his offer of a visit to the White House.

Controversy over the case is still bubbling in Irving. The Dallas Morning News reports school district officials say they had requested permission from Ahmed's family "to release records that might explain why police mistook his clock for a hoax bomb."

Those officials as well as the town's mayor say the Mohamed family has ignored the requests.

Discussing that claim — and the skepticism with which some view the case — the Morning News reports that "Ahmed's family never got the request to release his records, because the school district mailed it to the wrong lawyer."

Separately, questions have also touched on Irving's police records in the case — and the police department's request, made to the state attorney general, to withhold information about the officers who were involved, according to the Morning News.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.