Shamima Begum, one of three teenage girls who left their homes to join ISIS, or whatever it’s called this week, was 15 when she left Britain. She has since married a convert to Islam who comes from the Netherlands, and last weekend gave birth to her third child in a Syrian refugee camp. Now just 19, she has said that she wants to come home.
But opportunist Home Secretary Sajid Javid had other ideas. Seeing a group of MPs walk out on the Labour Party, and with three pro-EU Tories following them, he has clearly sensed that getting our free and fearless press to “look over there” would be most beneficial, both to the Tories and his prospects of succeeding Theresa May as Prime Minister. So he has made Ms Begum stateless.
She is a British citizen, and not a dual national. So stripping her of her British citizenship is a breach of international law, as well as setting a dangerous precedent. Small wonder that the BBC has now reported “The family of Shamima Begum, who joined the Islamic State group in Syria aged 15, say they plan to challenge the move to strip her of UK citizenship … Her family's lawyer, Tasnime Akunjee, said they were considering ‘all legal avenues’ to contest the decision”. So what is the official Government excuse?
“Government sources said it was possible to strip the 19-year-old of British nationality as she was eligible for citizenship of another country”. However, “Ms Begum is believed to be of Bangladeshi heritage but when asked by the BBC, she said she did not have a Bangladesh passport and had never been to the country”. Also, what happens if Bangladesh declines to award citizenship to her?
Sure, the right-leaning press is loving it. Yay to kick out another of those Scary Muslims™! But pandering to the xenophobes, Islamophobes and downright racists is not the same as meeting Britain’s obligations within the law. Hence the welter of adverse comment when the news of Javid’s decision was made public.
Charles Lister observed “The #UK has revoked #ISIS wife Shamima Begum's citizenship … That would suggest she holds a dual nationality -- otherwise, I believe the UK just broke international law…?” She doesn’t, so it did. Ross McCafferty was on the same track. “1) Is this even legal? 2) Sajid Javid really will do *anything* to become PM, won't he?” Quite.
Zubaida Haque asked the obvious questions: “Just the other day the Justice Secretary @DavidGauke admitted that the UK couldn’t make its citizens stateless. Why is it when it comes to BME ppl’s citizenship rights this govt doesn’t think twice of taking it away?” And Priyamvada Gopal warned “People of colour being pious about Shamima being stripped of citizenship: today, ISIS and her, tomorrow you/yours and some random thing they decide is a problem without a trial”. Theresa May’s record here is not a reassuring one.
And Rosie, otherwise known as The Little Leftie, showed that while many papers can’t see the point, 16-year-olds can. “I’m sure many of us felt sickened watching the interview but I can’t help but think this is the wrong decision. The fact that she thinks ISIS has made her stronger shows that she desperately needs to undergo deradicalisation - this will only create further resentment to the UK”. Dead right it will.
Sajid Javid is now recruiting for ISIS. But he may become PM, so that’s all right, then.
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