‘It’s the human thing to do’: Deerfield Academy host Somali man who speaks out against extremism, violence

  • Mohamed Amin Ahmed, creator of Average Mohamed, speaks to a group of students at Deerfield Academy on Thursday. Recorder Staff/ANDY CASTILLO

Recorder Staff
Published: 12/1/2016 10:57:45 PM

DEERFIELD — Deerfield Academy students heard a “counter narrative” against extremist behavior Thursday night delivered by Mohamed Amin Ahmed, creator of Average Mohamed, a nonprofit organization that speaks out against religious extremism and violence.

“What can I do as a citizen?” Ahmed, a Somalia native who now lives in Minnesota, asked a group of about 50 students gathered in Garonzik Auditorium on the prep school’s Old Deerfield campus.

“I decided to use my voice. I created this website. Google analytics tells me that it’s in over 130 countries. I’ve spoken to over 15,000 kids, and the reception has always been good. When you start talking about good in your society, other people start talking to you — because society rallies to good, especially in this great country called America.”

Using social media outlets, including Facebook and YouTube, in conjunction with AverageMohamed.com, the organization’s philosophy is based on three things: peace, democracy and anti-extremism — “because it’s the human thing to do.”

To educate people, he gives talks and creates simple cartoons that explain Islam — and clearly outline how the Islamic State’s message is against the Koran.

“We live in a world where our youth are being indoctrinated in values that are so abnormal, that are so against our moral code, that we wonder — must I be a sheep, or should I become a shepherd to help in this effort?” Ahmed said during a U.S. State Department sponsored speech in 2015, captured in a video posted on the organization’s website.

Thursday’s talk reflected that same tone. Ahmed called on the students to respond to messages of violence with peace.

In response to a question about the media’s role in influencing terrorism, Ahmed, who was born in Somalia, said “if it bleeds, it reads, they sensationalize things.” He used the recent terrorist attack at Ohio State University by a Somali student as an example, relating that the student is currently the “most popular Somali in America,” the “face” of his culture.

According to Ahmed’s website, he “migrated to the United States 20 years ago and has played numerous roles in both civic and corporate worlds.”

According to Ahmed, Average Mohamed uses cartoons to talk plainly to humanity, giving “average parents who deal with their average kids and clergy talking points that can help with theological or even logical talking points countering falsehood propagated by extremists.”

“The easiest thing you can do is promote tolerance,” he said about what students can do to influence positive change. “When you hear anti-Semitism, say something. When you hear something racist, say something. When you hear Islamaphobia, say something,” he said.

In the past, Ahmed’s message on AverageMohamed.com has been covered by national and global news agencies including NPR, The Telegraph, The Guardian, USA Today, The New York Times, and Fox News.

You can reach Andy Castillo

at: acastillo@recorder.com

or 413-772-0261, ext. 263

On Twitter: @AndyCCastillo


Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Greenfield Recorder, keeping Franklin County informed since 1792.

Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261


Copyright © 2021 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy