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.