Bulletin for the Study of Religion, Vol 44, No 4 (2015)

Who Believed There Was A Bomb and When Did They Believe It? What Ahmed Mohamed’s Clock Says About Belief and Moral Panic

Joseph P. Laycock
Issued Date: 15 Jan 2016


Thousands have expressed outrage over the treatment of Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old Muslim student at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas, who was arrested after trying to show his English teacher an electronic clock he had constructed. The principal as well as mayor Beth Van Duyne (who has previously appeared on Glenn Beck to discuss her fears over sharia law) have defended the actions of the school and police. But critics have speculated that neither the school nor police ever actually believed Mohamed had a bomb and that this was really a case of bigots humiliating a Muslim student under the pretense of public safety. This critique raises important questions about the mechanisms of moral panic. Is it necessary to believe in a threat to take action against it?

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DOI: 10.1558/bsor.v44i4.28907


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