The Daily Illini

Editorial: We stand with Ahmed; We stand for social progress

By The Daily Illini Editorial Board

This Friday, students at the University and across the nation brought clocks to their classes and posted pictures on social media with a hashtag trending across the globe: #IStandWithAhmed. The hashtag, and social movement accompanying it, started when 14-year-old student, Ahmed Mohamed, was arrested this past Tuesday in Irving, Texas, after he brought a clock he built to school and teachers mistook it for a bomb.

Many have criticized Ahmed’s school, accusing the teachers of racial profiling that played a role in the young clock-builder’s exit from his high school in handcuffs. Ahmed’s case, specifically, is another example of Islamophobia that has flooded our nation post-September 11. Since the attacks, racial profiling runs rampant with annual hate crimes against Muslims, which have risen roughly five times higher than rates before.

Students on this campus, general citizens and public figures alike have expressed their outrage over such blatant racial profiling and have pushed for Ahmed’s story to be recognized.

It’s crucial for all people to voice solidarity for tragic social issues such as this — and college students can play a critical role in supporting these movements.

President Obama praised Ahmed for the creation of the clock and went so far as to invite him to the White House. Mark Zuckerberg criticized Ahmed’s arrest on his Facebook page stating, “The future belongs to people like Ahmed.” Even NASA scientists and prestigious schools such as MIT are reaching out to Ahmed and extending invitations to visit them.

While these national displays of support are great ways to change opinions on a large scale, every person has an opportunity to similarly make change. Even if it’s a small act in solidarity, when it comes to social issues and problems of racism, sexism or homophobia, every single person can change the mind of many by vocalizing their opinions and joining movements that can positively affect the world.

Ahmed’s story could have yielded a heartbreaking outcome, but instead it took a turn for the better because of the outpouring of support from millions of people, including those on our very own campus.

Illinois Engineering recently tweeted a link to the 14 year old’s press conference and included the #IStandWithAhmed hashtag.

Through the movement that was staged last Friday, as well as the definite stance the College of Engineering has taken to support Ahmed, it’s clear that we need to continue to stay vocal about issues like racial profiling and Islamophobia.

It is only through showing support for students such as Ahmed that we can ensure that future students will be praised for their innovation and creativity, not arrested or demeaned.

The public must continue to push for social issues; even in the case of the trending hashtag #IStandWithAhmed, it has become a huge milestone toward creating awareness.

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