When Ahmed Mohamed was arrested by police for taking a homemade clock to his Texas school, Barack Obama reached out in support.
“Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House?,” he asked on Twitter. “We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great.”
On Monday night, Mr Obama proved good to his word, as the Texas teenager was among 300 people who attended the White House “Astronomy Night”, an event hosted by the president to encourage students to pursue careers in science, technology and engineering.
“We have to watch for and cultivate and encourage those glimmers of curiosity and possibility - not suppress them and not squelch them - because not only are the young people's futures at stake, our own is at stake,” Mr Obama said, according to the Associated Press. “Some of you might be on your way to Mars.”
There had been some speculation earlier, that Mr Obama would not personally meet with the youngster. The teenager’s recent visit with his father to Sudan, from where his father moved to the US, and where they met with Sudan’s president, Omaral-Bashir, who is accused of war crimes, had triggered controversy.
In addition, Senator Ted Cruz had suggested Mr Obama was somehow insulting police officers by inviting the teenager and should do more to honour law enforcement personnel.
As it was, Mr Obama did greet the 14-year-old, who hopes to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and become an engineer, and chatted with him, albeit out of ear shot of reporters.
Last month, the teenager was arrested after taking a homemade clock to hi school in Irving, Texas. A teacher called the police after claiming the device looked like a book. The teenager and his father said he had beeb the victim of Islamaphobia.
On Monday evening the teenager appeared focused on his visit.
“I felt really happy that I got support from the president. It’s really amazing that he helped me,” he said.
He added: “I came to America when I was really young. But on the way, you do make friends, and they help you along the journey. You meet people that are just like you.”
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