An activist tale from the grass roots.

As Average Mohamed we get our fair share of critics. The most nascent criticism is one that wants to shut down opinion. Never have we promoted anything contrarian to Islam. We promote inclusivity of all in diversity. We have three principles to work on. The first is Peace, Islam is peace. Fundamentally a Muslim value and it is important we take that message forward. The second is Democracy, compared to all other systems. It sucks the least. We promote liberties, rights and freedoms. The third aspect is our Anti Extremism. We are adamant to make ideologically the case against it. What does that mean? It means if we come across issues pertaining to Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Racism, Homophobia or even Anti-Christian hate. We as Average Mohamed will speak up, create messages countering it and oppose it. Including doing media Advocacy.

As Average Mohamed we have been doing this work for over 5 years. Actively engaging on social media and offline outreach to students and houses of worship. We give up our time, our effort and ideas to help create the world we want. Willing to work on it on a global scale.

This work is not without opposition. We have the far right that insults everything we do, from our noble religion Islam to our honorable prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him. The spread of islamophobia is systemic. The second group is far left. They believe that this war against extremism is a western creation. That Muslims are victimized every time we say extremism. They equivocate that extremism is an invention of the evil racist western empire. They also claim we are statists because we urge all peoples to work with governments. Our democratically elected government is the enemy here and asking for respect to authority to safe guard all our communities is immoral and Islamophobia. The third group, well these are the extremists of Al Qaeda, ISIS and Al Shabab. Theirs is simple, death threats. They know what we are doing, understand that if we are successful in implementing our program and model. They will have a hard time recruiting from our communities. These folks do not fear our bombs, bullets and surveillance. They willingly give up their lives for their cause. What they fear is exactly what Average Mohamed is trying to achieve. Counter ideology made popular using social media and offline outreach.

There is a cost to speaking up. We are bound to pay its cost because we will not accept hate or extremism as discourse from any one.

What does all this animosity towards our work mean? It means getting slandered on social media, it means getting insulted, it means our reputation will be questioned. Our motives dissected in the most distorted lenses. It means taking a risk by our part to want a better world. We will accept all labels, reputational slandering, any opposition and even hate or death threats. I accepted all these consequences because I believe that the world we want we have to create. It means working on it and coming out in the open doing it.

What does all this animosity towards our work mean? It means getting slandered on social media, it means getting insulted, it means our reputation will be questioned. Our motives dissected in the most distorted lenses. It means taking a risk by our part to want a better world. We will accept all labels, reputational slandering, any opposition and even hate or death threats. I accepted all these consequences because I believe that the world we want we have to create. It means working on it and coming out in the open doing it.

For the right wing, far left and extremists. Our message is simple. We want to coexist in peace, we will fight ideologically the ideology of hate from any source. Damn be the consequences to our reputation, future opportunities and sometimes our peace of mind.

My question to these groups is, the arena is wide open what suggestions do you have? What works are you doing? How much are you impacting this world? I sometimes worry about these forces of animosity targeting us directly. What world do they want but not the world we are taking risks publicly to bring about? I take comfort in the words of my hero, Rev Martin Luther King Jr, who said, “The Ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” One thing we will continuously do, is leave our comfort zone and engage the world, despite opposition to our works. We at Average Mohamed have work to do.

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