Shamima Begum, the schoolgirl who left East London after falling victim to ISIS’s utopian online advertisements, has had her UK citizenship removed by Sajid Javid. Although she hasn’t been charged with any crime nor fought for ISIS, the media has bulldozed Sajid into submission.
Having just given birth at the weekend, the UK media, led by Murdoch’s The Sun, conspired to send the UK lower classes into a manic hysteria aimed at casting Begum as an ungrateful, evil, cold blooded murderer who would, given the chance, blow herself up. The media even questioned her on the Manchester bombings, a desperate attempt to connect her which reminded us all of Saddam and 9/11. Have we not learned anything yet?
Begum, who has never been to Bangladesh, doesn’t have a Bangladeshi passport, and is unknown to the Bangladeshi authorities. As her lawyer said, “Our position is that to all practical purposes she has been made stateless.”
The other issue is the precedent that it creates. Lets say a young Jewish girl, born in the UK, naively reads that Israel is a utopian Jewish dream (not completely hypothetical), and this 15 year old leaves her family to live there for a number of years as a simple Jewish housewife and is not involved in any military action herself. Just for good measure she even loses two children whilst she’s there. Then later the British authorities declare that Israel is a terrorist state (a view held by many politicians and thinkers), and she wishes to return, what will be our reaction? Will she be questioned by the media on the crimes committed by other so-called Jews in Britain? Will she be on the front of the British newspapers and be the isolated target of anti Jewish attacks? I doubt it, and neither should she be.
Has the Home Secretary Sajid Javid gone too far in appeasing a populist vote in order to dissociate himself from his own Indo-Pak roots? The clean shaven former banker has been trying hard to disassociate himself from his ethnic traditions. Or is he simply attempting to give the impression that he’s tough on such (unimportant) figures so the British public turn to him as the next Tory leader? Whatever his motivation, he has effectively ignored the sensibility of the rule of law and caved in to the gutter rag newspapers like The Sun and the News of the World.
The tone and venom that the media has shown throughout this unfortunate is a disgrace. There has been a record number of anti-Muslim attacks and incidents of abuse in the last year, expect that figure to rise in the next few months thanks to the media. And who is the main target for this abuse? Women. Targeted by mostly male teenage perpetrators- Baz, Daz, Gaz- the readers of Rupert Murdoch’s trash.
Donald Trump, not normally associated with wisdom, is correct on this matter. “The United States is asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to take back over 800 ISIS fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial,” the President tweeted. “The Caliphate is ready to fall. The alternative is not a good one in that we will be forced to release them.”
Begum’s lawyer continued, “Home office minister Ben Wallace confirmed just last year that an estimated 400 Britons had returned to the UK from the Middle East having fought for groups like Isis. How Javaid thinks that it is proportionate to allow such fighters to return whilst assessing it necessary to strip a young woman with a child of her citizenship is beyond me.”
Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, said it would be a failure of the UK’s security obligations and breach of human rights law if the government is proposing to make Begum stateless, arguing her potential citizenship rights elsewhere are “entirely irrelevant”.
Her comments add to criticism from the Scottish National party and the Liberal Democrats over Javid’s decision, which is likely to face a legal challenge from Begum’s family.
Abbott said: “Whenever there are reasonable grounds to suspect that someone who is entitled to return to this country has either committed or facilitated acts of terrorism, they should be fully investigated and where appropriate prosecuted. This does not appear to be the case here.
“If the government is proposing to make Shamima Begum stateless it is not just a breach of international human rights law but is a failure to meet our security obligations to the international community.”
Potential citizenship rights elsewhere are entirely irrelevant. Our fundamental freedoms do not need to be compromised; they are perfectly compatible with our safety.”
George Osborne, former Tory chancellor said in the Evening Standard, “I understand the anger of those who say Shamima Begum should not be allowed to return to the UK. But I don’t agree, for a simple reason: she was born in Britain and has British citizenship. Which other is supposed to look after her on our behalf? Syria? Another European country? Can you imagine the fury here if we took a French or Italian citizen who joined Isis? Begum is homegrown and is our problem. It has to happen here. As for her newborn boy, he will be one of the most vulnerable British citizens in the world. Unless we have now given up on compassion and justice – and believe that the sins of the mother should be visited on an innocent baby.”
Myriam François, writer and academic on Islam and the Middle East, said, “What stripping Shamima Begum of her citizenship does is confirm the Isis claim that Muslims can never truly belong here in the west, and that propaganda blow was handed to them by our very own home secretary.”