Earlier this week, 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed of Irving, Texas, brought a digital clock he made from a pencil case to his school. He brought the clock to show off to his teachers, but instead of receiving encouragement, Mohamed’s school day ended in handcuffs and with the threat of being charged with making a “hoax bomb.” While many have condemned the actions of the school officials and law enforcement, Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne has come out in defense of the decision to arrest the teenage boy.
In a Facebook post today, Van Duyne wrote, “I do not fault the school or the police for looking into what they saw as a potential threat. . . We have all seen terrible and violent acts committed in schools, the workplace, and in public venues. Perhaps some of those could have been prevented and lives could have been spared if people were more vigilant. I hope this incident does not serve as a deterrent against our police and school personnel from maintaining the safety and security of our schools.” The mayor later edited her post to remove the latter three sentences and replaced them with a message encouraging Mohamed to not be dissuaded from pursuing engineering dreams.
Van Duyne came under fire earlier this year after she publicly condemned a rumored “Islamic Sharia court” in Irving. Van Duyne claimed the non-existent Sharia court was set up by Muslims trying to gain a foothold in America to “bypass” American courts. In another Facebook post, Van Duyne wrote, “I am working with our State Representatives on legislation to clarify and strengthen existing prohibitions on the application of foreign law in violation of constitutional or statutory rights. . . Our nation cannot be so overly sensitive in defending other cultures that we stop protecting our own.” The “court” that Van Duyne referred to is, in reality, simply a dispute resolution process, similar to systems set up by Christians and Jews, and does not attempt to take precedent over the law.
Nonetheless, in a move backed by Glenn Beck and Frank Gaffney, Van Duyne convinced the Irving City Council to support legislation to ban the nonexistent problem of Sharia law in Texas. Zia Sheikh, imam at the Islamic Center of Irving, asserted that the mayor’s statements fueled “anti-Islamic hysteria.” This hysteria has found a home in the Republican Party, where presidential candidates like Ted Cruz insist that Sharia law is making inroads in the U.S. and failed U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle said that the city of Frankford, Texas, is under the thumb of Sharia. (As CNN pointed out, Dallas annexed Frankford back in 1975 and “all that remains is a church and cemetery,” not exactly a hotbed of Islamic radicalism.)
While the Texas bill did not pass, the recent incident involving Mohamed proves that anti-Muslim panic encouraged by people like Van Duyne still thrives in Irving.