Religion kills again.

Religion kills again.  A mother has beaten her son to death because he failed to learn the Koran by heart.

Sara Ege used a stick to beat seven-year-old Yaseen “like a dog” if he couldn’t recite passages from the Islamic text.

The beatings were so brutal that the boy died from his injuries, and his mother tried to burn the body to destroy the evidence, Cardiff Crown Court was told.

Yaseen was originally thought to have died in the house fire. But a post-mortem examination showed Mrs Ege had been beating and abusing her little boy in the months leading up to his murder.

In a video recording of her interview with police, Mrs Ege told them: “I was trying to teach him the Koran.

“I was getting more and more frustrated. If he didn’t read it properly I would be very angry — I would hit him.

Religion doesn’t make anybody better, but it can take our concern for our loved ones and twist it into madness.  It can also amplify the worst of us until there is no humanity left.

Sure, people can become good because they believe god is watching.  But once you open the door to believing things for bad reasons, who but the most faith-drenched of people could possibly believe that people only do good things for bad reasons?  One of the things you will always hear from the religious people is how their faith changed their lives.  I’m just unwilling to be selective. Untrue beliefs can change peoples lives – it’s just the belief, not god at work.  And when those beliefs are awash with unreason, they can make bigots and murderers out of people.

The atheist activist just elects to criticize irrational beliefs before they become irrational actions, not afterward. This boy should have been out playing, not learning a book of outdated rules and horrors.  This boy did not have to die.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Glodson

    This is the rotten core of religion. In particular the brand that most of us grew up with, those who were religious. There’s a level of fear intertwined in the religion. This is an extreme case, but I grew up being told that I could go to Hell, a place of infinite torment forever. My friends, my family, anyone could suffer that fate. All for not believing in our Loving God, don’t question it. And this fear motivated people to bring others into the faith. I know I wanted everyone to believe, I didn’t want anyone to suffer that fate.

    But when you started to question, and think about it, the nightmare waved its ugly head. The nightmare silenced questions. The unspoken threat of violence hung in the air. People who were fighting for the very souls of others could turn a blind eye to this. It is easy to see why. What matters a little suffering here if you are prevented from going to Hell. And what sympathy can you have for those that would seek to turn others from God? Just try not to think about their point of view. Try to ignore that some see our beliefs as turning people away from God.

    And that’s just built into the religion from the ground up. Then there’s the social pressures, which can get violent. Which can get nasty. The ever present threat of being cast out by family and friends because of doubt, because of your sexuality, because even of your interpretation of the magic book. They all exist. Hell, even how people read the magic book can result in violence. Look at the Pearls.

    This is a sickening example. There is likely something very wrong with that woman. I feel guilt when I have to discipline my daughter. My morning was ruined because I had to get on her for trying to hit and bite me. Yes, I felt horrible for most of the day because I had to discipline my two year old for trying to bite me. I can’t imagine even wanting to hit her, to beat her, for failure to memorize anything. That’s insane. But this insanity is more easily rationalized when it is for the good of the child’s soul.

    His body be damned.

    And that’s the tragic part of all this. A life cut short all for the sake of a soul that doesn’t exist.

  • Evertonian Calvinist

    What moral standard are we appealing to when we are condemning this parent for killing her kid? Is this a majority vote? The majority of us say this is wrong; therefore it is wrong. Or is this left to each person to make a subjective moral decision on? The post is written like it is absolutely wrong to kill kids no matter what. How do you guys justify this absolute condemnation of this kid killer? Given your worldview, why is pain, death and murder wrong? It seems like you guys borrow from th Christian worldview to absolutely condemn injustices in the world, but then say He doesn’t exist with your mouth. You’re being inconsistent.

    • Chervil

      Believing that murder is wrong is not a Christian world view. Sorry.

    • Blue Camas

      You seem to think only ‘Christians’ form moral codes. That would come to a surprise to all the societies around the world that have never been Christian (or Jewish or Muslim) and yet still have moral codes that the majority of those in the society enforce.

    • Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

      Yeah, religious ethics really are different to secular ethics. Just ask an Amalekite.

    • ah58

      Pfft! Oh yes, the Abrahamic religions are all about protecting the children. Doesn’t the bible say you should stone unruly children to death, bash babies heads against rocks, and have kids be eaten by bears because they made fun of a bald guy’s head?

    • Aegis

      The problem with the assumption that people get their morality from a god is that it obscures the way people make gods from their morality.

      Also, what kind of moral standard drives someone to take the brutal murder of a child and use it to make a feebly-disguised attempt to proselytise?

    • Amyc

      This guy’s a troll. He finally got banned at FriendlyAtheist (we all know how much it takes to get banned there), so now he’s coming here. EC uses the same argument regardless of what the post is about.

    • demandevidence

      Wow. I wish I had gotten to this comment first. I don’t think the mother should be condemned! The mother is the unfortunate product of her environment and biological make-up. Any logical person would know that there is no other explanation for her behavior. The majority of people would say her behavior needs to be discouraged and discontinued. We discourage this behavior not because of the majority’s whim, but because we have drawn the admittedly arbitrary line at suffering. That is to say, before the advent of Sam Harris’ “The Moral Landscape”, I would have agreed with you: There is no right or wrong. And to be clear: Objectively, there really is no right or wrong. However, if you arbitrarily choose the scenario “the worst possible suffering for everyone” and say that this is bad (arbitrarily, the worst bad), then you can use this point to measure the probability that certain actions will lead closer to or further from the worst bad. Since beating and killing your child seems to lead into the direction closer to the worst bad, it seems logical that we might condemn this behavior. Great question!

  • Armageddon

    Calvinist: Please defend why it would be right to murder a child.

    • Evertonian Calvinist

      Armageddon ,
      I’m not saying that this child killing is “right”. You guys are saying it is wrong and I want to know why. I know you think it is wrong, and it is. But given your worldview, how do you ACCOUNT for this being wrong? By what standard are you judging this to be wrong? If you were to be a good, consistent atheist, you may make a subjective objection to this killing, but you could never say it is absolutely wrong in every place and all the time. Right?

      • Chervil

        An atheist doesn’t get to make sweeping judgments, and each the exact same conclusion for every situation in every case. Nor do atheists base their judgments on right and wrong because someone told them to think that way. Never heard the term good, consistent atheist, I think you just invented that.

        • RobMcCune

          What he means is that if no god has ordered anything, then no one should be able to do anything. EC can’t conceive of the world having any meaning without an authority giving orders. What’s more he can’t conceive of someone not buying into the christian framework and accuses everyone else of acting like chrisitians for living. He also applies radical skepticism to any view than his own, then declares victory without justifying his worldview, probably because he knows the flaws are apparent to anyone who god hasn’t ordered not to think.

          • Chervil

            + 1

          • Steve

            He is just a troll. This has been explained to him at least a dozen times already, yet he pretends he hasn’t heard the answer

      • Anonymous

        Have you ever heard of something called common sense? We have established our own sense of moral code after thousands of years of trial and error, learning, intelligence, reason, philosophical teaching etc We all know deep down that killing another human is wrong and irrational, it is innate, we are social animals who work together for positive outcomes, unfortunately some people don’t get to experience education or love which often causes them to behave like the woman in the above story. You don’t need an absolute objective system to refer to, and the fact that you do makes you as an individual very suspect, you need to be watched over, you need someone else to tell you how to behave, because you’re too weak to work it out by yourself.

    • Steve

      Whatever god says is right. If god tells you it’s ok to kill a child, it’s moral

    • Glodson

      When to kill a child:

      “If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear. — Deuteronomy 21:18-21″


      “He that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death. — Exodus 21:15″


      “He that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death. — Exodus 21:17″


      “Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones. — Psalm 137:9″

      Not sure what the that last one has to do with anything, but it’s there. Happy child killers in the Bible.

      Finally, if you make fun of a bald dude, God sends in the bears.

      “And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them. — 2 Kings 2:23-24″

      Everlasting Praise to a Loving God. If child killing by the handful is loving somehow.

  • HandsomeDude

    If a bad report card had triggered this fatal beating, would you report that “Education kills”?

    Religion was the excuse for this abuse, not the cause. If you’re worried about “believing things for bad reasons”, start with your own concern that religion impacts our lives only in negative ways. It’s an idea that’s both inaccurate and clearly formed by prejudice.

    Stupid violent people will always find reasons to behave stupidly and violently. For some, a shallow grasp of religion justifies their appalling behavior – but for many others, religion offers direction and support that can ultimately calm or redirect their anger and, yes, bring real change. Ultimately we need education , healing and justice to end child abuse and many other forms of violence. But pretending that religion as a concept somehow caused this tragedy is bad logic.

    Child abuse and societal violence is a real problem. Wasting your energy blaming the very concept of religion is a fool’s response.

    • Nox

      How many religious people have to commit while loudly declaring “I am doing this for my god” before you will admit the possibility that religion does have something to do with it?

    • Cubist

      sez handsomedude: “If you’re worried about “believing things for bad reasons”, start with your own concern that religion impacts our lives only in negative ways.”
      I am unaware of any atheist who actually does think that “religion impacts our lives only in negative ways”. I, at least, certainly don’t think that. What I do think, is that religion is a very mixed bag that impacts our lives in a variety of ways, some of them good, some of them evil. I think that every one of the good bits of religion is not unique to religion. I think that for any good bit of religion, there is at least one alternative, non-religious, delivery system which can provide that good bit without the evil shit that religion provides in addition to that good bit.
      So all in all, considering the good and the bad, I think that it would be a net benefit to humanity if religion went away—just not because “religion impacts our lives only in negative ways”.

  • Armageddon

    HandsomeDude: Religions such as Christianity not only saction the killing of children but DEMAND it. I haven’t read the Koran, but I can’t imagine the rules are just that much different. Please defend the Bible’s demand for the death of children (by stoning) for disrespecting their parents.

    • Chervil

      Sure, Charlie Fuqua cited in his own book that children should be killed just for being rebellious, as described in the bible. handsome dude, your comment contradicts Calvinist up there who seems to think that Christians have a lock on all things moral. When it’s convenient, of course, the it’s just “society” and “lack of education” that’s the problem.

    • HandsomeDude

      Armageddon: Your statement is ridiculous. “Please defend the Bible’s demand for the death of children”? No thinking person would or could. We all must fight against the hateful, wrongheaded extremists who use their religion (or culture, or ‘morality’, or family tradition, or anger, or anything else) to justify murder, child abuse or any other harmful activity. “Christianity” describes an extremely diverse group of people, very few of whom take the Bible’s most ludicrous passages literally – or, indeed, assign any practical value to them at all.

      But it’s foolish and hateful in another way to define any category of people by the worst behaviors of anyone in that category. By that logic, I could expect violent, hateful, ignorant behavior from every Canadian because somewhere in a Canadian prison is a murderer who fits that description.

      • Glodson

        Here’s the problem with the whole Child Killing rules in the holy books: those are the word of God. These are God’s commands. So this is a God that makes explicit rules for when to, and even how to, kill children. So while us rational people can easily reject such a rule, while we can look at as barbaric, it is still the Word of God. If you believe in the Bible, if you are Christian, you take many parts already on faith. The Resurrection, the Immaculate Conception, the Virgin Birth, all of that for example. There’s no proof of any of it outside the Bible, and the justification is often “this is the word of God, it cannot be wrong.” Some go further and say “God won’t allow it to be altered.” But let’s still with the softer one, the “it cannot be wrong” idea.

        And I know that some will look at the Old Testament and say “this doesn’t apply anymore.” So the perfect God, who so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son to die for our sins, created laws before he had his kid that commanded the deaths of children? Could you not see how that might be a tiny plot hole in the story? Why did this deity create these laws in the first place? If he didn’t create them, then why are they in the Bible? Why are they apart of the Word of God? Why does he allow them in the Bible?

        Here’s the thing: we know that all religious people aren’t like this woman. We got that. What we are saying that is that you derive your beliefs from a book. You have faith in parts of that book at least. So how do you account for the parts that seem monstrous to us today? How do you account for the parts that are just wrong? How can a thinking man ignore a command from his God when he believes that God’s Will is Law?

      • Cubist

        sez handsomedude: ” ‘Christianity’ describes an extremely diverse group of people, very few of whom take the Bible’s most ludicrous passages literally – or, indeed, assign any practical value to them at all.”
        Fascinating. Please, handsomedude, could you tell us all which Biblical passage you consider to be the “most ludicrous” ones?

  • Terry Grinnalds

    Just in case you think it’s only the men who are Islamic crazies.

  • Drakk

    I’m ex muslim and have a 7 year old brother.

    You have no idea how close to home this hits.

  • Jake

    This is Diversity. Get ready for more Diversity

  • Jeremy Griffin

    You’re confusing the chicken with the egg.

    Morality wasn’t created by a god as a guideline for people to live by. People came up with these ideas over thousands of years (starting with natural selection – what keeps the most people alive – and eventually evolving to what keeps the most people happy and causes the least amount of suffering). Since people of the time weren’t intelligent enough to realize this, they attributed the phenomenon to a god, just like they did with child birth, plant growth, and astronomy. Now, of course, these things can be explained easily. Religion lost its claim on those other things when science came along, but still refuses to give up morality because it is so central to their mythology. Regardless, we now have better explanations for all of these things, so the religious ones are no longer viable or necessary.

    Morality didn’t get invented by a god, then implemented; it was implemented naturally, then – just like everything else – assumed by the religious to have been invented.

  • Jeremy Griffin

    Sorry, I realized I didn’t answer your question. It is only considered wrong by humans because of the humans’ unique capacity for empathy. We, unlike other animals, are able to consider our actions from the viewpoint of others. If we deem those actions to be hurtful or dishonest when done to us, we consider them immoral to do to others. Morality is not a law saying that certain actions are arbitrarily wrong; it is a human construct made to explain our perception of the objective hurtfulness of our actions.

    • Nate Frein

      Human capacity for empathy is not that unique. Look up the animal ethics experiments done.

    • Steve

      “Survival of the fittest” doesn’t mean “everyone for themselves”. There are plenty of social animals that live in groups where you can witness examples of sacrifice and selflessness. Even some non-social animals have shown some capacity for empathy and don’t always do what’s in their own best interest, but help others instead.

  • Mike

    I don’t think this has anything to do with religion. This is a horrible thing to happen to a child but bad parenting and a short temper are what killed this boy. The fact that she was trying to teach him the Koran is irrelevant if she was a Christian she would have been beating him for not reciting the bible correctly, or an atheist she would have beat him for not reciting the periodic table of elements correctly. We can’t blame religion for everything, (I wish we could) but some times we just have to admit people are capable of horrible things regardless of religion. (or lack there of)

    • tox

      Mike, as Steven Weinberg has said:

      “With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion. “