Meet the Middle East's atheist preacher

“There are people who believe I left Islam so I must be killed. But maybe if more and more atheists speak up, there will be less pressure and threats,” Mohammed told The Daily Beast.

Mohammed’s show is part of a proliferation of pro-atheist channels, magazines and blogs across the Middle East is arguably the latest iteration of Arab Spring. When Arab youth once sought to overthrow regimes, they now are embracing small, more tangible gains like freedom of expression.

The rise of self-proclaimed Islamic State appears to have worked to atheists’ advantage. They argue ISIS shows the danger of those who adhere to strict interpretation of old text. And, they note the contrast of the brutality of ISIS and the pluralistic society they propose.

“The end goal, for them, is a place were people can be free from religious authority,” said Dr. Nadia Oweidat, a non-residential fellow at New American Foundation who researches liberal Islamic thought and countering violent extremism.