Briefcase Bombs and Islam

It was September 14th, 2015. In Irving, a city positioned on the edge of the greater Dallas metropolitan area, a young boy named Ahmed Mohamed carried a silver briefcase to school. Upon opening the briefcase to show his teachers and friends, many were shocked to find a display panel, a circuit board, a battery pack, and some wires. Ahmed was arrested that day for staging a bomb hoax. When the major news outlets ran with the story and when President Obama sent a supportive tweet to the boy, we the public were led to believe a different story: it wasn’t a bomb hoax at all — it was Islamophobia!

Who would have figured? A boy who went to school with a suitcase clock that looked conspicuously like a bomb was charged with going to school with a clock that looked conspicuously like a suitcase bomb. To most, this would seem like clear cut common sense. When the media decided to cover the story, however, the boy’s school and the local police were vilified as malicious Islamophobes. That’s right, if you’re a young Muslim boy and you shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater, you won’t be arrested for disturbing the peace or any such unsavory thing, because after all, you hadn’t actually started a fire. Foolish infidel! You fell for the oldest gag in the Quran! Whatever dangers that may occur from shouting “Fire!” in public is everyone else’s fault for being so impressionable. Islam is famous for bringing certain mathematical innovations to the West, namely Algebra, now it brings with it a radical new approach to law, namely the Muslim is right and everyone else is wrong.

In this particular case, although little Ahmed never claimed that his homemade clock was a bomb, those of us with a healthy sense of skepticism, those of us with a strong gag-reflex to the wafting of bullshit, have to ask the painfully obvious question: why? Why would a boy bring a clock with gangly wires sticking out of a seven-segment display conspicuously placed inside of a thin, silver briefcase — which clearly matches our many cultural paradigms about what a terrorist’s bomb should look like — unless he, or his parents who put him up to it, wanted people to mistakenly assume that the clock was a bomb? This is the 21st century and we have sufficient technology to put digital clocks on our wrists now; either this boy is genuinely half a century behind the rest of the known universe, or maybe he and his parents had intentionally put this oversized clock in a questionable briefcase to cause a stir.

But had Ahmed even built anything? According to one electronics expert named Thomas Talbot, the clock wasn’t even built by Ahmed: the boy had simply taken the plastic case off of a store-bought alarm clock and then shoved the whole thing inside a briefcase. This is evident in the manufacturing style circuit board, the ribbon wire, and the unnecessary battery backup. Far from building a digital clock to show his engineering teacher, he just mechanically plagiarized an alarm clock and did everything in his power to make it appear as if it were a bomb.

Imagine if I sauntered into a bank with a Glock, let’s say, an Airsoft Glock 19 with the orange tip painted black; does anyone think my insistence that the pistol in my hand which I just so happened to point at customers was not a real pistol would make the bank tellers feel less frightened? If the managers didn’t sound the alarm instantly when they spotted my gun, they would ask me to leave, and if I refused, without a doubt the police would be brought in and I would be arrested — and rightfully so.

I suppose that to the astute observer, if he had studied much about Islamic history, he would be quick to realize that the “Muslim is always right” is not a new approach at all.

Sharia has a term for non-Muslims residing in an Islamic state: dhimmis. The term means “protected people”, but this protection feels less like a compassionate shield and more like a Mafioso whom you pay to help prevent any unfortunate “accidents”. Dhimmis are not allowed to do much: they can’t build new temples or churches, they can’t pray nor can they read their sacred books aloud, they can’t congregate in the streets during holidays, and they can’t sell or distribute books in public places. In civic law, dhimmis are afforded the same punishments as Muslims, but not the same privileges: they can’t own weapons, dhimmi men cannot take a Muslim wife, and dhimmis can never testify against a Muslim in court. Likewise, dhimmis will suffer repeated exclusion from business and government thanks to the Quran’s own enlightened verses: “Allah will not give access to the infidels to have authority over believers” (4:414).

Some finger-waggers and naysayers may chime in at this point to remind us that the Old Testament has a lot of wonky prohibitions and old-school punishments as well. This is a fine argument, but easily deflated: nobody in the modern era is pushing for Old Testament law. An uncomfortable number of Muslims, on the other hand, are advocating for Sharia in every Western nation that they inhabit. If Muslims decided to set up shop in the Arctic circle I’m sure we would hear news stories about how adulterous seals were stoned to death and baby penguins were drowned for apostasy.

Recently, a poll of 600 American Muslims conducted by the Center for Security Policy discovered that over half of the Muslims polled preferred Sharia to American common law. Nearly a quarter of those polled said that it was legitimate to use violence to punish those people who offend Islam. Despite appalling revelations such as these, America welcomes a quarter of a million new Muslim immigrants each year.

And why is it that we only hear about Islamophobia when Christians for half-a-century have been derided, rebuked, and lampooned by people in nearly every major media institution? Why can’t I hurl charges of Christianophobia at those firebrand atheists who never fail to lecture believers about how silly and stupid they are for keeping their faith? If only we could all be so enlightened to believe that an infinitely dense singularity suspended in an infinitely dense void was the origin of our universe! That theory sounds so much more reasonable than a vengeful man in the sky! This is not to suggest that Christians don’t deserve a fair portion of ridicule; but why do Muslims have this magical get-out-of-criticism-free card? It is not critics deriding Christians that irks me so much as the disingenuous overlooking of others more deserving of derision. Why swat at a mosquito when across the room sits a 600 pound grizzly?

Let’s be frank, if there’s one religion that spits in the eye of our most cherished ideals, that flaunts its disdain for our hard-fought law and order — it is Islam. And let’s be frank in another way, too: the Mohameds were looking for controversy when they sent skinny Ahmed to school with that briefcase; and thanks to the media, they got exactly what they wanted.