The teen who donned a fake bomb vest to issue a prom proposal and received a five-day suspension for his actions told ABC News that he stood by his idea and believes the school’s punishment was unfair.
Ibrahim Ahmad, 18, of La Center, Washington, pulled the stunt Tuesday during lunch at La Center High School. It was witnessed by the principal and disciplinary action followed swiftly after, but Ahmad said his peers didn’t have a problem with the idea.
“The people that were in the cafeteria understood what was going on. ... I had a friend help me make the posters. Teachers even saw me make the posters,” he told ABC News today.
Ahmad said he created the simulated device from a paint ball jacket and red tubes. Along with the vest he carried a sign that read: “I kno it’s a little late, but I’m kinda the bomb, Rilea will u be my date to prom?”
His proposal was well received, he said.
“They applauded. You know, it was funny. The cafeteria was just -- it was a happy moment,” he said, adding that his intended date, Rilea Wolfe, accepted the proposal.
Since Ahmad can no longer attend the Saturday event -- his suspension includes the prom -- he and Wolfe will instead go to dinner and a movie, he said.
Ahmad said he was born in Seattle and is of Middle Eastern background. Asked whether he understood why his actions could be viewed with particular sensitivity given the current climate, he replied: “Well, wouldn’t that just be fueling, like, the stereotypes?”
“Being a Middle Eastern child, you’re growing up with all these bomb jokes. It’s kind of like it’s always a thing that’s there but ... the people that were there, they understood the situation," he added.
Ahmad, who plans to study biology in college, told ABC News that he wouldn’t change his prom proposal if he had the opportunity, and he believes the school’s actions were too harsh.
“I’m not allowed to go on the school property and I can’t do soccer right now because I’m suspended but I feel like it’s -- five days is a bit much, ‘cause even kids that get into, like, fights, they get suspended for like a day and that’s something more serious,” he said. “What they said I did was I disrupted the learning environment of the study body. It was during lunch, so.”
Mark Mansell, the school district’s superintendent, did not respond to a message left for him by ABC News at his office today, but in an interview published Wednesday in The Columbian newspaper he said the punishment was warranted.
“I want all my kids to feel safe and supported, but there’s a line,” Mansell told the newspaper. “Given the way the world is today and school safety, even if one parent or one student was upset about this, it causes issues.”
A short video on the newspaper’s website shows the vest-wearing Ahmad making his proposal while onlookers cheer.