Ahmed is a genuine nerd, just as I was at his age. When I assembled and installed alarm systems from salvaged alarm parts I stated clearly and honestly that I had "built" them. To an electronics beginner even taking something apart and re-presenting it in a novel way gives great satisfaction. There is nothing fake-ass about any of it. It saddens me to read all these arbitrarily constructed harsh judgements here, which NONE of you would ever apply to your OWN children. At that age you have to compare the desire to handle and understand electronics to the act of doing nothing at all, watching television, or tunelessly strumming a guitar imagining you're a few songs away from screaming fame.
The totality of the response by the school was a surprise to the boy... who may have been aware that his project might stir some suspicion but the boy also honestly believed he could 'diffuse' such concerns with the power of his own words, and the simple fact that the truth was on his side. It was a small thing, and (maybe) fun to give a little push back to any alarm. The fact that his science teacher had seen and approved of the project underscores this.
Ahmed's father was another story. There was certainly a gleam in his eye as he participated in the project, knowing of the unique social forces and ugly escalating institutional response that was possible. Ahmed needs to come to the firm conclusion that his own father is an asshole. Please do not judge the kid for his father being an asshole.
If his father has not apologized to him at least privately, his father is a flaming asshole.
And some of the responses in this thread indicate the presence of flaming assholes as well.