ISIS have become one of the biggest threats to our society in recent years and it seems our governments are struggling to deal with them in an effective manner.
However, a 40-year-old gas station manager in Minneapolis, is on a one-man mission to stop the Islamic State and extremism in its tracks.
Meet Somali-American Mohamed Ahmed. He was waiting for a constructive conversation about extremism to happen, but it simply hasn’t in the U.S., so he’s decided to take the matter into his own hands.
Ahmed created a new cartoon starring Average Mohamed, aimed at children aged eight to 14 to stop Americans being brainwashed into wanting to join ISIS.
On his website, the creator explains the logic behind Average Mohamed: “It is an average guy who turns average people into extremists. It will take all of us average people to tell them otherwise.”
Between 2006 and 2011, nearly 30 young Somali-Americans from Minneapolis – home to the largest Somali community in the U.S. – left for East Africa to fight with terrorist group al-Shabaab.
So after consulting with Minneapolis imam’s, Ahmed decided to create a new cartoon to tell religious narratives to show why ISIS’s message is so so wrong.
Average Mohamed is used in particular to represent the vast majority of Muslims who reject ISIS’s extremist interpretation of Islam.
He’s starting to take Average Mohamed’s message into the classrooms as well and his videos have started receiving worldwide attention.
Since then Ahmed has now met with the U.S. Department of State and presented his videos at a counter-extremism conference in London.
Speaking to The Guardian, he said:
It’s the average people who must fight this war. It’s a game changer. As Muslims on the frontline of this issue – whether it’s fighting it physically or fighting in my ways with counter ideology – that is a way we are closer to victory.
In response to ISIS’s use of social media and technology to spread its propaganda and find new recruits, Barack Obama turned to big Silicon Valley companies to ask for support in boosting anti-terrorism narratives from people outside of the government.
This approach is thought to be more effective than government sponsored campaigns. However, with an increase in anti-Muslim messages from the likes of Donald Trump, there’s a real threat of this work being countered.
We can only hope Ahmed’s incredible work and more pro-activity from the West can stop terrorism in its tracks.