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15-year-old Mohammad Qataa did nothing wrong.

(via Al Jazeera)

He was selling coffee in the city of Aleppo recently when he got into an argument and supposedly said the following:

“Even if the Prophet Mohammad comes down [from heaven], I will not become a believer.”

That was enough for an “Al Qaeda-linked Islamist group” to find him and kill him yesterday:

“People gathered around him and a member of the fighting brigade said: ‘Generous citizens of Aleppo, disbelieving in God is polytheism and cursing the prophet is a polytheism. Whoever curses even once will be punished like this’,” the [Syrian Observatory for Human Rights] said.
“He then fired two bullets from an automatic rifle in view of the crowd and in front of the boy’s mother and father, and got into a car and left.”

If that wasn’t disturbing enough, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is distributing a very-graphic-and-NSFW image of Qataa to the press in order to let people know how serious this violence is and to turn people against the Syrian regime.
(Also, “Polytheism”?)
There’s one more twist to this story that could somehow make it even worse. According to Al Jazeera, the argument that Qataa had may have been with a customer who just wanted a free cup of coffee. Qataa said “Even if Muhammad comes down, I will not give it as debt” — or (paraphrased) I wouldn’t give you free coffee even if Muhammad came back down. (“Religion” and “debt” share a similar root in Arabic, adding to the confusion.)
In other words, Qataa may have been killed over an innocuous statement that was only misinterpreted as blasphemy.
This is religion at its worst, unable to handle even the idea that someone might not believe in God. Yes, there’s a political angle to this and the terrorist group wants to stoke fear in the masses, but their delusions are only pushed to the brink because of their dogmatic faith.
(Thanks to Xavier for the link)

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Hemant Mehta is the founder of, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.