A woman in Britain has been convicted of murdering her seven-year-old son and then setting his body on fire because he could not memorize the Koran.
Sara Ege, 32, was found guilty of murder in Cardiff Crown Court and now faces life imprisonment for beating seven-year-old Yaseen Ali Ege to death in July 2010.
Ege used a stick to beat Yaseen "like a dog" when he struggled to memorize and recite passages from the Islamic holy book. The beatings were so brutal that the little boy died after months of abuse. Ege then burned his body in an unsuccessful bid to conceal her horrific crime.
In a police interview, Ege, a university graduate who immigrated to Britain from India, told investigators that she was trying to teach him to memorize the Koran but that he was not very good at it.
Ege and her husband, 38-year-old taxi driver Yousef, had enrolled Yaseen in advanced classes at their local mosque and wanted to impress the imam.
"Memorizing the whole of the Koran is a great reward for the whole family," Ege told police. "It brings honor and increases the standing of the whole family in the local community."
"We had a high target," she said. "I wanted him to learn 35 pages in three months. I promised him a new bike if he could do that. But Yaseen wasn't very good. After a year of practice, he had only learned a chapter."
Ege told the court that she could recite the entire book when she was her son's age.
"I was getting more and more frustrated," she told police during the interview. "If he didn't read it properly I would be very angry-- I would hit him. I was getting very wild and I would hit Yaseen on the back with a stick like a dog."
"He would be doing his work and wouldn't complain and I would hit and hit him more and more," she confessed. "He was a good boy but I used to get angry and he wouldn't even stop me or say anything to anyone."
The court heard how Ege beat her son with a stick, a hammer, a rolling pin and her fists.
After the boy's death, Ege said she felt "100 percent better."
"It is like something has been released," she told her doctor.
Ege said that "voices" and "Shaitan"-- the Islamic name for Satan, or the devil-- told her to beat and kill her son.
"Voices told me to hit Yaseen and then I hit him more and more," she said. "It is Shaitan-- it is the devil who is telling me to do all these bad things."
"I have become so harsh, I even killed my own son," she confessed.
Emergency responders were called to Ege's home in Pantcanna, Cardiff on July 12, 2010 after a fire ravaged the top floor of the residence. Firefighters rescued Yaseen and attempted to revive him, but he was already dead. At first, his death was ruled a tragic accident. But an autopsy revealed that the little boy had been killed prior to the blaze, and examiners found signs of severe abuse including a fractured arm and finger and fractured ribs. Lighter fluid was also found on the boy's body.
"He clearly suffered terribly," Prosecutor Ian Murphy told the court during Ege's trial.
Ege initially denied murdering her son but later changed her story, claiming her husband and his family had threatened to kill her if she did not take the blame for Yaseen's death.
Ege's husband Yousef was cleared of causing or allowing the death of a child by failing to protect him.
Ege's conviction comes just days after a similar case in the United States, where a seven-year-old Nevada boy named Roderick Arrington was allegedly beaten to death by his mother Dina Palmer and his stepfather Markiece Palmer because he lied about reading a chapter of the Bible.
Last year, Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz, Christian fundamentalists from California, beat their seven-year-old daughter Lydia to death because, they claimed, God wanted them to kill her.