Syrian activists condemn execution of teen over blasphemy

by Abdulmumeen S. Yitta

Syrian activists have condemned the Syrian Islamists militant group, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham over the execution of a departed teenager who was charged with blasphemy.

The activists claimed that the boy was rather killed over phone messages which criticized the group’s leader.

The teen, Mohammed Tano was first arrested six months ago at the Bab Al-Hawa border when he was crossing between Turkey and Syria’s HTS-controlled Idlib province.

Some local media news eported he was one of the Syrian refugees deported from Turkey last year, while others said he was returning to opposition-controlled Syria after his father fell ill. Tano had been in Istanbul for four years, and had a job at a restaurant.

The group said after militants searched his mobile phone they found evidence of “blasphemy”, a crime that warrants the death penalty according to the extremist group’s laws.

However, others have argued that the notoriously brutal HTS security forces discovered messages between Tano and a friend denouncing the organisation’s leader, Abu Mohammed Al-Jolani.

A member of Tano’s family said the teenager was killed “in cold blood”.

He added that “When we asked for verification of the charges they had handed him, they told us that they burned it,” with the claim that they had collected the body at Idlib Central Prison.

HTS, which used to be affiliated to Al-Qaeda, dominates much of Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province and parts of neighbouring Aleppo province, and has its own security apparatus and courts.

It has imposed draconian restrictions on the local population – many of whom opposition activists fleeing from other parts of Syria – and has arrested many who oppose its ideology. Protests against its rule have taken place on numerous occasions.

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