Was Ahmed Mohamed’s Arrest Really All About Religion and Race?

Many people are framing the arrest of student Ahmed Mohamed at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas on Monday in terms of Mohamed’s race and religion. The argument goes that a white and non-Muslim student would not have been arrested as was Mohamed for bringing to school a home-assembled clock that school workers and police say looks like a bomb.

Even if convincing evidence does come to light indicating Mohamed’s race or religion was the determining factor leading to his arrest, which is not the case of yet, it is a mistake to think that other students are immune from such treatment because they are white or non-Muslim. Such thinking will also stand in the way of ending the systematic abuse of students that allowed Mohamed’s arrest to occur.

The race and religion framing of Mohamed’s abuse has been pushed much in the media since Mohamed was arrested, irrespective of whether there is any evidence supporting the characterization. For example, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, in an MSNBC interview, asserted “the clear understanding that this would not have happened to somebody who wasn’t named ‘Ahmed Mohamed,’ who didn’t have brown skin, who wasn’t of Sudanese heritage.”

And what is the basis for this conclusion? A “gut level” understanding. Continues Hooper, “I mean, we just at a gut level understand that that would not have occurred the way it occurred if the circumstances or if his background had been different.”

Nihad Awad, CAIR’s executive director and co-founder, interviewed Thursday on the PBS Newshour, provided a prime example of the jump by many people to characterize Mohamed’s abuse with the label “Islamophobia.” In response to interviewer Hari Sreenivasen’s first question of “So tell me about your contact with the family,” Awad answers in part:

When this happened to the family, the family contacted our office in Dallas, and we recognized that this was another case of unfortunate Islamophobia and targeting of young people just because of their faith tradition, not because of their deeds or their behavior.

This characterization is in line with CAIR’s new 25-second promotional video that couples the popular hashtag #IStandWithAhmed and CAIR’s islamophobia.org website.

CAIR has significantly contributed to disseminating information and opinion regarding Mohamed’s abuse, even holding the Wednesday press conference featuring Mohamed, members of his family, and his lawyer on the front lawn of Mohamed’s Irving home.

Writing in The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald made an effort to present some actual reasoning, instead of just hurled assertions, to support the belief that Mohamed’s abuse, or at least some extent of his abuse, is due to some or all of his abusers’ perception of Mohamed’s religion. Greenwald presents the demonization of Muslims that has come with the United States government’s wars in Muslim-majority countries across the world, as well as negative attitudes toward Muslims held by some Americans and, he suggests, by the mayor and some city council members of Irving, to support the contention that Mohamed was targeted because of Mohamed’s religion.

Continue reading at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

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