Clock delusion? Richard Dawkins calls Texas teen Ahmed a liar, provokes Twitter storm

Richard Dawkins © Chris Keane
Controversial evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins has prompted mass backlash after taking to Twitter to criticize the motives of Ahmed Mohamed, the 14-year-old Texan arrested on suspicion of making a bomb.

Mohamed was arrested last week after a teacher mistook the Muslim teen’s homemade clock for a bomb. As news of the controversy spread, many, including US President Barack Obama and top NASA scientists, rushed to defend the schoolboy. Critics accused school staff and local police of Islamophobia.

Prominent atheist Richard Dawkins however was not impressed the story. 

“Assembling clock from bought components is fine. Taking clock out of its case to make it look as if he built it is not fine. Which is true?” Dawkins tweeted on Sunday. “Yes, there are other reasons why a boy might take a clock out of its casing and pretend he’d made it. Trying to impress teachers, for instance. If the reassembled components did something more than the original clock, that’s creative. If not, it looks like hoax.”

Dawkins also posted a link to a YouTube video in which someone argues that the clock was simply reassembled from components and that Mohamed brought it to school in order to provoke a reaction.

After Dawkin’s Twitter attack, hundreds rushed to defend Mohamed and accused the author of ‘The Blind Watchmaker’ of missing the point. The scientist appeared to backpedal a little, saying: “Sorry if I go a bit over the top in my passion for truth … We were all fooled, and arresting him was wrong. Like searching shoes at airports,” Dawkins wrote. “I’m not putting down the child. I’m putting down myself and the rest of us for being fooled. And the police for arresting him for nothing.”