The Webby Awards 5-Word Speech
On stage at The Webby Awards in New York City where I won in the category of Public Service and Activism Channel. The competition in this category included the American Ad Council and a major INGO. Video courtesy of The Webby Awards and the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences.
CNN: YouTube ‘brings sexy back’ to charity work
"The key to success on YouTube, Ahmed said, is realizing that the site's viewers are different than a television audience and that traditional public-service announcements aren't going to cut it."
NPR: Gay and Muslim: Can Orlando tragedy lead to acceptance, tolerance?
"Ahmed's own experience coming out as gay and being Muslim has been a difficult one. His parents fled what is today's Bangladesh and landed in Canada. [...] It took him until his 30s to come out. He's a Muslim, and Islam views homosexuality as sinful."
CBC News: Video blogger invited to World Economic Forum
"...the 29-year-old Toronto video blogger has managed to attract a huge following on YouTube, where his videos have been described as changing the way people think about global poverty. More than 80,000 people subscribe to his videos — that's 10 times more than agencies such as Save the Children and UNICEF."
The Globe & Mail: Connecting to the Facebook crowd in the fight against poverty
"A self-described shy geek who is into space stuff like Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica, Mr. Ahmed has no problem with people having fun. But if more started using these Web tools like he does - reporting, educating, inspiring - what a difference it could make."
The Toronto Star: Local ‘bridge-maker’ turns up at Davos
"Ahmed will be part of the young, socially conscious web’s eyes and ears on the ground at Davos, where he will mingle with people like Randi Zuckerberg, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s sister, and, if he’s lucky, the wealthy philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates."
Mashable: Why Social Media Is Reinventing Activism
"Shawn Ahmed is fond of reminding people that, “I’m not a charity. I’m just a guy.” While plenty of "just guys" in the last generation also traveled to less privileged countries for altruistic purposes, Ahmed has the leverage of YouTube. When people view videos that are a part of Ahmed's Uncultured Project, they're often inspired to pitch in and help the people they see."
The Globe & Mail: Who owns the Pride movement?
"A failure to acknowledge the history of Pride and the path our movement has taken towards justice does a disservice to us all. As Mr. Diverlus said, "Pride was, and still is, a riot." He's right, but it is also a celebration of the victories we've won, mindful of how much further we have to go."
Maclean’s: The police saved my queer, Muslim life. And they can be allies for others, too.
"To me, Pride was never just a party or a parade: It is a literal and figurative march towards greater justice. It is a journey that has seen the police transform from an institution that attacked us, sparking our parade in the first place, to one which we can turn to when our march is under threat of attack. The police as an institution have much further to go. But, as we march, we must recognize we all have much further to go on the path of justice. This is why it is important we march together: Only by marching together can we lift each other up when we fall, tell each other to pick up the pace when we are too slow, and make sure no one is left behind."
University of Toronto Magazine: A New Way to Give
"On one of Shawn Ahmed’s first visits to his parents’ homeland of Bangladesh, he gave the shirt off his back to a child in the slums of Dhaka. He was no more than five years old, and it was a sweater that his grandmother had spent months knitting – a detail that’s now part of family lore. It’s been almost 30 years since that most basic act of charity, and Ahmed (BA 2005 Trinity) is still giving to his ancestral country."
Global News: Gay Toronto Muslim man faces online backlash after Orlando shootings tweet
"Ahmed said he sent his tweets to help further tolerance of his religion. [...] Instead, he was attacked and even threatened from Twitter users."
The Globe & Mail: Forging links for the impoverished
"He's not a CEO, a prime minister, or a financial wizard. He doesn't even have a steady salary. But an enterprising young Canadian, who has carved out a social-media career with a twist, has scored a high-profile invitation to next week's World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland [...]"
The Huffington Post: Young Video Blogger Champions His Cause in Davos
"Ahmed feels that many charities try to raise money by showing sufferers, usually children, destitute and beleaguered. In his videos he tries to show hope, and gives the subjects of his videos the power of the Internet to speak directly to donors and supporters."
Mashable: 5 YouTube Projects That Are Making a Difference
"[Shawn Ahmed] started posting videos about poverty issues as he traveled in Bangladesh, where his parents are from. With each problem, he tried to also focus on a solution. [...] Although Ahmed never intended for the project to be a charity, people saw his videos and wanted to send donations."
The Globe & Mail: Police deserve to march at Pride. The Manchester attack reminded me of that
"Each of my identities acts as a lens through which I see every terror attack. As a Bangladeshi, I see that Islamists kill people in Muslim countries as gleefully as they kill people in the West. As a gay man, I see that too many Muslims condone or embrace homophobia. This foments the grounds upon which Islamists target LGBTQ and LGBTQ allies (of which the attack in Manchester intentionally or unintentionally has done). As a Muslim, I know that every terror attack leads to more Islamophobia, which means that innocent Muslims could be targets of the next hate crime."
The Huffington Post: In Wake Of Trump’s Muslim Ban, Canadians Must Rally Behind Trudeau
"Muslims like me are scared and we have every right to be. Many of us and/or those within our community are directly affected by the American Muslim ban. Being this side of the border doesn’t mean much. Canada is often a hair’s breadth away from mirroring the politics in America."
The Gay Muslim That Built A Catholic School
The series of videos chronicling how I became a Muslim that flew to Bangladesh (with help from a Rabbi) to live with the Catholic Church to build a school for Hindus. Videos were uploaded from Bangladesh during a time when the government was banning YouTube and broadband internet was virtually non-existent.
University of Toronto Magazine: An Uncomfortable Truth
"As an openly gay Muslim, I am terrified of the Muslim community. As a Muslim, I know that acts of terror do not reflect Islam. With more than 1.6 billion Muslims on this planet, I know the vast majority of them are non-violent and peaceful just like me. As a gay man, I find no comfort in this fact because I know firsthand that hatred of LGBTQ people runs rampant within the Muslim community. Muslims cannot claim that Islam is the Religion of Peace if it is the Religion of Homophobia."
The Huffington Post Korea: 게이 무슬림인 나는 무슬림 커뮤니티가 무섭다
A Korean translation of "An Uncomfortable Truth" originally published in The University of Toronto Magazine.
The Huffington Post: As An Openly Gay Muslim, I’m Terrified Of The Muslim Community
A republication of "An Uncomfortable Truth" first published in The University of Toronto Magazine.
Queerty: Queer Muslim activist Shawn Ahmed reflects on Pride, Orlando, and his faith
Interview with Queerty as part of their Pride coverage.
BBC News: ‘I’m gay and Muslim – Orlando shooter doesn’t reflect my faith’
Quoted as part of a larger story.
CBC Radio: Metro Morning Coverage On Rana Plaza
Interview with CBC Radio as part of their coverage of the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh which killed over 1,000 people. Please note: audio of this broadcast is no longer available online.
The Globe & Mail: How to take part in Davos from afar
"Shawn Ahmed, a 29-year-old video blogger based in Richmond Hill, Ont., was chosen last week as the winner of the 2011 Davos Debates held online and is now here at the meeting. The Forum challenged people to post a video on issues important to humanity. Ahmed's was about how corporations and charities need to bridge the "digital divide" in poor countries."
The Chronicle of Philanthropy: How Nonprofit Groups Need to Adjust to a ‘Networked’ World
"Shawn Ahmed is a 29-year-old Canadian from Toronto and the founder of the Uncultured Project. His goal is to move people to fight extreme global poverty. He is idealistic and facile with social media and works outside the walls of a nonprofit organization or other institution. We call Shawn a free agent for social change."
The Huffington Post: 5 Ways Bill C-24 Makes Canadians Less Safe
"The Liberals, NDP, and Green Party all oppose C-24. However, in doing so, they've been portrayed by the Conservatives as being soft on terrorism and sympathetic to terrorists. However, the most glaring criticism of C-24 is that it, in fact, makes Canada less safe. Here are five reasons why."
BBC World Service: Muslims and Gay Rights (Aired July 10, 2015)
Asked by BBC World Service to be one of the panelists/speakers on the "World Have Your Say" program. Please Note: Audio of broadcast of this episode is no longer available online.
Mashable: What Makes the “Most Influential Social Good Champions” Tick?
"Rather than just show doom and gloom, Ahmed tried to show both the problems faced by impoverished people as well as potential solutions."
The Huffington Post: 5 Reasons Why Gaymers & GaymerX Matter
"I’m a gaymer. To many of my straight friends, identifying as a “gay gamer” is as nonsensical as making the distinction of being a gay Trekkie or a gay Notre Dame football fan. Events like GaymerX — an annual convention for LGBT Gamers (full disclosure: I don’t work for or get paid by them) — makes even less sense. But being a Gaymer and events like GaymerX matter. Here are five reasons why."
The Huffington Post: The TEDx Talk You’ll Never See
"Surprisingly, the lack of LGBT rights in Bangladesh has less to do with religious conservatism and more to do with an intransigence among the Bangladeshi LGBT community when it comes to even wanting such rights. This reality and the reasons behind it were to be the focus of a TEDx talk I was to give this month. Unfortunately, that is a TEDx talk that you will never see."
The Huffington Post: One Rabbi’s Uphill Battle Against Sexual Abuse
"... as the New York Hasidic community faces increasing criticism in the wake of this scandal, this gay Muslim in Bangladesh hopes others show the Hasidic Community the same compassion, empathy, and understanding that one ultra-orthodox Hasidic rabbi once showed me."
The Huffington Post: Kindness Is a Choice
"What my life has taught me is that there are things that hiding, being loving, being loyal, being patient, and being good cannot change. We cannot choose how others treat us. We can only choose how we treat others. And if others treat us in ways that hurts us, abuse us, abandon us, make us feel lonely or worthless, we can choose to echo that onto others or do something better. And, so, I choose to be kind."
The Huffington Post: How Google Helps Islamic Extremists
"Knowingly or unknowingly, Google has given a tool that Islamists can use to silence and intimidate their enemies. What’s the point of reporting on Islamic extremism if an Islamist can take it down in three clicks? Why must those who put their lives on the line on-the-ground risk their lives even further to fight fraudulent claims on YouTube?"
The Huffington Post: Bangladesh’s War on Empathy
"What is the most disheartening is that, as a Muslim (albeit a gay Muslim), I find that neither side of this conflict is embracing Islam. My faith – as I practice it – compels me to seek the truth even if that truth upsets my preconceived beliefs. It compels me to empathize with my fellow human beings – even if they are my enemy. It encourages me to pursue justice but to temper it with compassion and forgiveness. I have seen none of this in Bangladesh. On either side of this conflict."
The Huffington Post: Why We Need Gaybros
"... beyond the funny name lies a very deep, substantive and complex community. Gaybros raises money for charity and promotes sexual health education, it’s a safe space for talking about abusive relationships, and it’s the go-to place to talk about sports while also talking about who the hottest guy on the team is."
The Huffington Post: Imagine Catholics and LGBT Rights Complexly
"For the past 6 months, I have lived with Catholic Priests. I sleep in the same building as the head of this congregation, a retired Bishop, and my dad’s old school teacher. We eat together, watch TV together, and complain about the weather together. What I’ve learned is that Catholics — and those who are part of The Church — are complex human beings. And when I was forced to come out as gay, I found nothing but love, kindness, and support here. One priest has even kinda sorta been trying to set me up on dates here (and, yes, it was awkward)."
We Can Speak For Ourselves
Village women tell their own story and together we help over 10,000 children. Project was done in collaboration with Save the Children.
Seven Years of Awesome
The story of a Catholic colony that literally lives behind a wall for safety from the majority of Muslims that surround them. As a Muslim, I help build a bridge by building a school in their community. This video also serves as a recap of the work I did in Bangladesh. This video was done in collaboration with The Catholic Church.
The Boy Who Lived
The story of how I helped a boy who survived a deadly cyclone rebuild his school. Project done in collaboration with Save the Children.
The Globe & Mail: Meet Your Vloggers
"[...] that direct, intimate vlogging style [Shawn's] adopted in his videos that has helped him nab far more views than the those produced by many international charities."
Eve Teasing & Sexual Assault in Bangladesh
Bangladeshi women talk to me about the sexual harassment they face trying to live, work, and study in their communities. Video made possible by support from the Canadian International Development Agency.
“The only difference is that we don’t have a home”
Focusing on those facing and fighting homelessness and food insecurity in the United States. Done in collaboration with DC Central Kitchen and with a grant from the Nonprofit Technology Network.
My Journey To Davos
A quick series of videos of my literal and figurative journey to be a part of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Made in collaboration with The World Economic Forum.
CBC Radio: Metro Morning Interview
Interview with Matt Galloway of CBC Radio's Metro Morning to discuss my charity work, social media, and the World Economic Forum. Please note: audio of this broadcast is no longer available online.
Nerdfighters in Bangladesh
My interfaith work with a Buddhist monastery. Video narrated by a student living in a hostel (and orphanage) where he talks about the conditions and needs of those who live there. Charity work was executed after facilitating collaboration between donors and recipients via Twitter.
The Gift of Clean Water
The story of how I was able to connect a village in Bangladesh with an online community to help create a clean water system. Done in collaboration with Save the Children.
Mashable: 3 Incredible Social Good Champions
Cited as one of the examples of Incredible Social Good Champions as part of the Mashable Awards.
The Disregarded Disaster in Bangladesh
When a natural disaster hits Bangladesh, it doesn’t always make international news. This was one of those disasters. Video highlights how I transparently show where individual donations are going and who those donors are helping. Done collaboration with Save the Children.
Teach a Man to Fish?
The story of how one tweet seen by one person touched a family in Bangladesh. Video narrated by a donor who explains why “The Uncultured Project” means so much to her.
Fighting Hunger in America
The story of how I helped provide the Los Angeles Food Bank with 10,000 pounds of food. Video was done and collaboration with Feeding America and The Los Angeles Food Bank. This video was featured on the YouTube frontpage. This work was also featured in a story on CNN.
Cow Sh*t to Clean Water
While in Kenya, I decided to test the claims that a nanotech water filter can safely filter out harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites. I test it by having the CEO of the company who makes the device drink filtered cow feces. Done in collaboration with Vestergaard.
World Malaria Day
A video I made to raise awareness on World Malaria Day 2008. Made with in-kind support from Vestergaard.