Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Questioning American Muslim Teen Ahmed Mohammad's Move to Qatar

14-year-old American Muslim kid Ahmed Mohamed is moving to Qatar with his family. His attempt to impress his teacher with a homemade clock put him in jail in handcuffs when his teacher at his school in Irving, Texas, thought it was a bomb and called the police.

The story made headlines in western and international media and brought widespread condemnation of the anti-Muslim bigotry in his hometown.  There was also an outpouring of support for him from Silicon Valley tech titans who invited Ahmed to their campuses. President Obama tweeted his support for Ahmed and invited him to the White House.

The Dallas Morning News has reported that top schools from across the United States had tried to woo Mohamed, but it was the Qatari offer “that most intrigued the family.” The newspaper reported that Mohamed will study at the Doha Academy while his siblings find schools in Doha, the Qatari capital.

The news has intrigued me as well. I have friends and relatives from Pakistan who have been living and working in Qatar and other oil-rich Arab nations for several years. Although they are well educated and probably financially better off than they would be in Pakistan, they resent the fact that they are paid less than their white colleagues doing same or similar work. In the event that they lose their jobs, they would have to pack up and leave Qatar at very short notice. Even their Qatari born children have no rights there; they would have to leave with them. If Ahmed and his family think they are escaping racism in America, they will find much more of it in their new home in Qatar, with no bill of rights or  civil rights groups or independent courts to protect them.

There are several questions that I suggest Ahmed's father ponder as he prepares to move to Qatar along with Ahmed and the rest of the family:

1. When was the last time Qatar's Emir spoke out against wrongs done to the children of foreign-born residents of his country as President of the United States did for Ahmad?

2. Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) spoke out for Ahmed when he was subjected to abuse in Texas. Are there any civil rights organizations like CAIR in Qatar?

3. What chance does Ahmed have of realizing his full potential in Qatar as Pakistan-born Shahid Khan, India-born Vinod Khosla and many immigrants or children of immigrants have in the United States?

Even if Ahmed's father persists in his folly, he can have some comfort in the fact that the United States will still go to bat for him and his family because they carry US passports. And they can return to United States as American citizens when Qatar decides to expel them.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Silicon Valley Stands With Ahmed Mohamad

Shahid Khan is the Richest South Asian in America

Steve Jobs: The Son of Syrian Immigrant Father

Silicon Valley Pakistani-Americans 

Free Speech and Islamophobia in America

King's Hypocrisy


NickQuidwai said...

Brilliant; he stated he will be living amongst Muslims: Yup they may pray, fast but they do not practise the fundamentals of Islam IE no concept of royal blood, divisive politics of arab, non arab, racism against people of color like Africans etc., and the points raised above!!!
Ekbal Kidwai

Rizwan said...

I agree with you. I think they are in for a shock. They will live to regret their decision.

Suhail H. said...

Your differentiation of Qataris vs foreigners is incorrect. Qataris, like all other Arabs, rate Pakistanis lowest in the social strata. Sudanis and other Arabic speaking Africans rate much higher. Probably next to Americans, West Europeans and GCC Arabs; higher than East European, Far Eastern, subcontinent people. So the discrimination faced by Ahmed's family in Qatar would be much lower than they'd be facing the US, or Pakistanis in Qatar.

Pakistanis and other Muslims are being increasingly discriminated against in the US. Since you're living there, you'll not notice the change. As the frog story: If you put a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will leap out right away to escape the danger. However, if you put that same frog into a kettle that is filled with water that is mild and pleasant, and then you gradually increase the heat in the kettle until it starts boiling, the frog will not become aware of the threat until it is too late (boiled frog!).

Anonymous said...

well he most certainly won't be subject to the rampant Islamophobia. This will allow him to not live a life of fear- necessary for self-esteem, self-confidence, and achievement.

ps you make it too hard to post comments

Anonymous said...

The kid is a Sudanese Arab.Will face much less discrimination in another Arab country.

Face the bitter truth blood is thicker than water a Lebanese Christian Arab will face much less discrimination in a gcc Arab country like qatar than a muslim south Asian/Indonesian/African.

After this modi nonsense is over and done with in 5-10 years what we need to have is a south Asian union and kick Arab ass.

Though given India's immense size it will be NAFTA not EU still one should shoot for a Canada US.

Modify got clobbered in Delhi and is gonna loose Bihar next week.Good sense is returning.

Nehru take a bow your institutions have just passed an acid test.

Syed Qasim Abbas said...

western countries are better for immigrants.....far far better ,there is no comparison frog or no frog

Salman Q. said...

Yes Riaz,to the point,you are right there.I endorse what you are saying based on my own.experience.

Shams S. said...

My brother in law is dark skinned Pakistani with an American passport. He lived in Saudi Arabia as an employee of Lockeed Martin Marietta (he is an aircraft engineer). Due to US laws, he got the same pay scales as white Americans, lived in the American-European enclaves, and children went to American schools. Still, outside of the enclave, when Pakistan exploded the nukes, every Saudi on the street congratulated him. Except for that, he felt discriminated against every time he went out of the enclave.

Times have changed since 9/11.

You are right, there is serious backlash and more and more discrimination in the US, but then we still see companies like Fireye's Ashar Aziz, Twitter hero Suhail Rizvi, and many other Muslims leading the change in the US..

Anonymous said...

haqani sb sends you his love.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: " haqani sb sends you his love."

Though not surprised, I'm happy hear Obama-Sharif summit has made Haqqani unhappy.

Having been rebuffed by Obama, I think Haqqani has become Trump's main foreign policy advisor.

"Number one, the people negotiating don’t have a clue. Our president doesn’t have a clue. He’s a bad negotiator...We get Bergdahl. We get a traitor. We get a no-good traitor, and they get the five people that they wanted for years, and those people are now back on the battlefield trying to kill us. That’s the negotiator we have...I know the smartest negotiators in the world. I know the good ones. I know the bad ones. I know the overrated ones...But I know the negotiators in the world, and I put them one for each country. Believe me, folks. We will do very, very well, very, very well." Donald Trump, Wall Street Journal, June 16, 2015

Shah said...

I Am Sorry Riaz Sahib But I Cannot Agree With This.I Have Spent A Good Part of My Life In GCC And Have Not Seen Any Overtly Racist Behaviour.Middle Class Saudis and Emiratis Always Treated Us With Respect.However I Tend To Admit That The Elite Class Ones Are A Bit Arrogant