Magazine | January 28, 2013, Issue

The Veil Descends

In the summer of 2010, mourners lined the streets of Wales’s capital city to pay tribute to a seven-year-old boy killed in a house fire. In fact, Yaseen Ali Ege was brutally beaten to death, and then set alight with barbecue fuel. By his mother. For failing to learn the Koran. Over the preceding months, Mom had used a stick, a rolling pin, and a hammer on her son, but, despite these incentives, he had memorized only a couple of pages. And so she killed him, and subsequently declared she felt “100 percent better.”

This month, at Cardiff Crown Court, Mrs. Ege was sentenced and jailed by Mr. Justice Wyn Williams for what he declared “a dreadful crime” that had inflicted “a good deal of pain” on an innocent boy. The judge, however, was discreet enough not to pass comment on more basic cultural questions. He had no view on whether or not being forced to learn the Koran is an appropriate educational priority for a “Welsh” schoolboy, so long as the parental hammer and kerosene remain locked up in the toolshed. Nor on whether a child so raised can be a fully functioning member of Western society. Yaseen’s headmistress at Radnor Primary School, Ann James, called him “a delightful little boy and beautifully behaved who always had a smile on his face,” and forbore to mention that on the day of his murder he had been kept home from class and the “teddy bears’ picnic” because his mother felt he needed to focus on his Koranic studies.

To dust off the formulation that got me hauled before the Canadian “human rights” commissars: Time for the obligatory “of course”s. Of course not all Muslims brutalize their families — although the ten-year-old daughter of Asia Parveen of Stoke Newington was treated for 56 injuries after being beaten for not reading enough verses of the Koran, and Hesha Yones of west London had her throat cut by her father for being too “Westernized,” and a five-month-old baby in Halmstad, Sweden, was beaten to death with a Koran, and this very month a campaign against Muslim domestic violence is being launched in Scotland, and a BBC poll last year revealed that two-thirds of young British Muslims favor violence against those who “dishonor” their families, and in the Netherlands Muslims make up 60 percent of the population of battered-women’s shelters . . . And of course not all Muslims are self-segregating, although 57 percent of Pakistani Britons are married to first cousins, and in Bradford, Yorkshire, it’s 75 percent . . . 

Nevertheless, many Muslims share the broader cultural preferences of Yaseen’s mother.

#page#In that sense, Headmistress James and Mr. Justice Williams are lagging indicators. Britain is undergoing demographic transformation. According to the 2011 census, the United Kingdom’s Muslim population doubled in the decade after 9/11. In Cardiff, Yaseen’s funeral service was held in the Masjid-e-Bilal mosque, which was formerly a Christian church and was built during the Welsh Protestant revival in the 19th century. In Wales, Christian revival has come and gone. If the Muslim population doubles again this decade, Mr. Williams and Mrs. James will be joined on the bench and in the faculty lounge by Muslim judges and teachers. Would a Muslim jurist look more kindly on Mrs. Ege, at least with respect to motive? Or would a Muslim headmaster reorient teaching priorities to make Yaseen’s extracurricular studies no longer necessary?

Who knows? In Wales as in much of the Western world, we are in the midst of an unprecedented sociocultural experiment. Its precise end point cannot be known, but on the Continent its contours are beginning to emerge: In Amsterdam, formerly “the most tolerant city in Europe,” gay-bashing is now routine; “youths” busted into a fashion show, pulled a gay model from the catwalk, and beat him to a pulp. Claire Berlinski reported for National Review two years ago that in the French suburb of La Courneuve 77 percent of veiled women say they cover themselves to “avoid the wrath of Islamic morality patrols.” In Potsdam, the Abraham Geiger Theological College advises its rabbis not to venture on the streets wearing identifying marks of their faith. In synagogues from Copenhagen to Berlin to Rome, Jews are warned to hide their yarmulkes under hats or baseball caps at the end of the service. In Paris, a man wearing no identifiably religious clothing was beaten unconscious on the Métro for being caught reading a book by France’s chief rabbi. The message is consistent, from Jews to gays to women: In the new Europe, you don’t want to be seen as the other. Keep your head down, or covered.

For a decade, I’ve been told by those who think I’m “alarmist” that there’s nothing to see here. The seven-year-old whose non-appearance at the teddy bears’ picnic goes unremarked . . . the beleaguered National Health Service reeling under the costs of genetic disorders from cousin marriage but now providing free and discreet “hymen reconstruction” for Muslim daughters who got a little over-Westernized one night . . . the infidel women going veiled to avoid trouble in les banlieues . . . the rabbis wearing baseball caps on the streets of Berlin and Brussels . . .

One reason that there’s “nothing to see” is the ever greater lengths we go to to cover it, and ourselves, up. The veil descends, on all of us.

– Mr. Steyn blogs at SteynOnline (www.steynonline.com).

Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist.

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