Ahmed Mohamed, the 14-year-old Texas boy who was detained and arrested for bringing a clock to school that teachers and police believed was a “hoax bomb,” arrived on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning to raise awareness about racial and religious discrimination.
“I’m glad that this happened to me because I get to spread my word out to the people and tell them that it’s not by the color of your skin or by your religion, but it’s by your heart,” Mohamed said at a news conference on the House side of the Capitol. “And you always judge a person by your heart, not what they look like.” Rep. Michael M. Honda, D-Calif., hosted Mohamed at the Capitol on a Tuesday chilly morning. Honda renewed his call for Attorney General Loretta Lynch to investigate the circumstances surrounding Mohamed’s arrest.
Honda, along with Congress’ two Muslim House members, Andre Carson of Indiana and Keith Ellison of Minnesota, teamed up with more than two dozen of their Democratic colleagues when they signed a letter on Sept. 22 to urge Lynch to investigate what they called civil rights violations.
“We have laws and we have the Constitution already in place,” Honda said after the event, when asked if Congress can take action to address profiling. “What we have to do is follow through and make sure those laws and those protections are followed-up on. And that’s the attorney general’s business.”
“Racial profiling won’t be ended because we have laws on the books,” Honda continued. “It’s when we make it important and when we teach people how to behave.”
Honda recounted Mohamed’s detainment and arrest on Sept. 15, after he brought a homemade clock to MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas. The Japanese-American lawmaker said he understood what it was like to face discrimination, as he and his family were detained at an internment camp during World War II.
“Despite being bullied and profiled as a child, I was proud of my heritage,” Honda said. “And I’m proud to see Ahmed standing here before you with such courage and character and determination of himself.”
Mohamed was in the District of Columbia to visit the White House, accepting an invitation from President Barack Obama. Mohamed briefly met with Obama Monday night, and said they spoke about Mars.
But the young man’s visit to D.C. drew criticism from presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. According to the Dallas Morning News, Cruz said at a presidential forum over the weekend that the president politicized the situation and attempted to divide Americans.
Honda made a veiled reference to Cruz’s comments by stating, “From presidential candidates to teachers and police officers, we all must take a strong, unified stand against this growing fear of Islamaphobia and bigotry.”
Mohamed’s family friend Ron Price had stronger words when he told the press, “I don’t care if you’re running for local garbage collector or if you’re running for the United States presidency, no one should ever criticize a child. That shows a lot about your character.”
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