Shamima Begum: Family start legal challenge to remain a British citizen.


WORDS: Gary Kelly

Shamima Begum, or as the tabloids have labelled her ‘The ISIS bride’ is currently in a refugee camp in Northern Syria, having had her British citizenship stripped from her. Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary revoked Shamima’s citizenship in a move only permissible under international law, if it does not leave the individual stateless. The speculation at the time was that Shamima is of Bangladeshi heritage so she would be able to claim citizenship there. Shahriar Alam the Bangladeshi Minister of State for Foreign affairs refuted this claim. 

So what does that mean for Shamima Begum? 

She is effectively stateless. A citizen of nowhere. She exists in a state of limbo. Belonging to nobody. 

Appeals against this decision have been made with the Special Immigration Appeals Commission. Tasnime Akunjee, who represents the Begum family, is calling into question the Home Secretary’s decision on the basis that it is not proportionate given that active combatants for Islamic State have been allowed to return and not subject to the same treatment. 

Mr Akunjee said  "The decision is wrong because it renders Begum stateless, it puts her life at risk and breaches her right to family life.

"The Government have accepted that 400 people have picked up a gun and actively fought for Isis and they been allowed back to Britain.

"So how can it be proportionate for a 19-year-old girl who had a child not to be allowed to return, when the others have been allowed to return?"

Personally, I have never seen such a divisive issue play out around one person. There is an insidious and inhuman energy around this country at the moment, to some this issue, this person - for that is what Shamima is- is a touchstone for projecting their own deeply held fears. If we are to truly be considered ‘Great’ as a country, if we are to separate ourselves from the barbarians of the Islamic State, if this is indeed a ‘culture war’, then we do not win it by resorting to barbaric acts. 

This goes for our government, as well as us as individuals, as human beings. The Home Secretary in my view has played to the baying crowd by making a populist move in targeting a 19 year old girl, a girl who was groomed on the internet as a child. Shamima was filled with ideas of a utopia on earth, a land of milk and honey and when she arrived it was anything but. She was used for sex, gave birth 3 times before she was 18, all of those babies are now dead. All of those babies were British. 

I understand I won’t win many friends for my belief that Shamima should be given her British citizenship back. But give her it back we must. If we want to truly be considered Great we need to act like it, and by we I mean everyone of us as individuals and most especially our go government as ultimate decision makers.  Are we not all human....all to human?

“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster... for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you”. - Friedrich W. Nietzsche