Ahmed Mohamed, the schoolboy who was handcuffed and questioned by police after bringing a homemade clock to school, is moving to Qatar with his family. Mohamed has accepted a full scholarship from the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science, and Community Development, where he will join its Young Innovators Program in Doha. The 14-year-old visited the White House Monday evening to take part in an astronomy night hosted by President Barack Obama, with his family announcing their decision to leave America on Tuesday.
"Our family has been overwhelmed by the many offers of support we have received since the unfortunate incident of Ahmed's arrest," said the family in a press release. "From the White House to Sudan, to Mecca, we have been welcomed by a variety of individuals, businesses, and educational institutions."
In a phone interview with The Washington Post, Ahmed’s 19-year-old sister Eyman said the family had been under a lot of pressure after being thrust into the media spotlight. Eyman said some of this had been productive, with Mohamed "motivated to work harder than ever before," but that the attention had brought difficulties, too. "It’s been really hard," she told the Post. "Everything happens for a reason, but there’s so much stuff being said that isn’t true."
Mohamed has been criticized by figures including Richard Dawkins
Eyman is apparently referring to a minority online who suggest that Mohamed and his family in some way engineered the media attention. These include renowned British biologist Richard Dawkins, who also found fault with the clock that was the cause of Mohamed's arrest, criticizing the schoolboy for claiming to have invented the device rather than simply deconstructing it. Some have also taken issue with Mohamed's meeting with Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for genocide in Darfur. Mohamed's father, the Sudanese-born Mohamed al-Hassan, has reportedly tried to run against al-Bashir in Sudan's elections twice.
Overall, however, the reaction to Mohamed's story has been positive. The 14-year-old received invitations to visit Facebook and Google, and politicians including Hillary Clinton and President Obama having given him their support. During his visit to the White House last night, Mohamed met briefly with the president, who gave him a hug.
In a personal statement from yesterday's press release reported by BBC News, Mohamed said: "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."