It takes an idea to defeat an idea!
“Average Mohamed” is the name given to a character and supporting organization founded by Minneapolis-based Mohamed Ahmed. He felt called to reach out to Somali youth in response to the extremist messages being targeted toward them. Average Mohamed provides a pro-democracy, pro-community, anti-extremist message aimed at Somali youth in Minnesota and abroad.
Over the past four years Ahmed has made 25 short animated cartoons distributed through social media which feature the main character, Average Mohamed, addressing topics such as identity in Islam, free speech, and justice. As a result of this work Ahmed has been invited to speak at numerous schools, community centers, and youth organizations.
Average Mohamed is just that: an average person using plain language to speak directly to youth in Minnesota and elsewhere who are targeted by the extremist messages from organizations such as Al-Shababand ISIS. The mission of Average Mohamed is to use ideas to defeat ideas, to find local solutions to global problems, and to promote peace, anti-extremism, and democracy to kids where they are: on social media.
In his own words,
“AverageMohamed.com was set up to talk plainly to Humanity. The issue of extremism is one that directly affects us all. I have waited for a constructive logical argument that can reach average people. It has dawned on me that it will take an average guy. It is an average guy who turns average people into extremists. It will take all of us average people to tell them otherwise. My mission is simply create a counter ideology with your help and input. Give average parents who deal with their average kids and clergy talking points that can help with theological or logical talking points countering falsehood propagated by extremists. I live happily in the greatest place a person can call home, amongst a people who cherish peace and offer people like me unparalleled opportunity to achieve as much as I want to. It is in their name and that of my children and the right to free speech I do this.”
Average Mohamed does not shy away from tackling difficult issues of identity, disenfranchisement, or religious confusion. Rather, he sends a message of inclusion, of democracy, of finding alternative paths in an atmosphere of alienation than can so often be part of the immigrant experience. His message not only rejects the message of extremists, but provides real world alternatives.