Shamima Begum should be allowed to return to the UK

Submitted by martin on 20 February, 2019 - 11:31 Author: Martin Thomas
Syrian refugee camp

Shamima Begum, the British-born 19-year old who went to Syria to join Daesh at the age of 15, should be allowed to return to the UK.

Her support for the sectarian clerical-fascist Daesh is to be condemned. But to deprive anyone of legal rights, as to imprison them, should be done only after charge and fair trial, not by decree of a government minister anxious to placate an electorate in a nationalist mood.

She is a British citizen, and so is her baby son. Even people convicted of horrible crimes after due process do not have their citizenship withdrawn.

More, she is a teenager. She has the possibility and the right to change her mind and reject the vicious ideologies of Daesh.

She is more likely to be a danger to others if forced to remain in a refugee camp in Syria, in unstable conditions, among other refugees who may well have fled to the camp to escape Daesh.

The Government may not even be able to sustain its decree to deprive Shamima Begum of British citizenship. Under the law it is using, that can be done only if the person is not rendered stateless.

The Government says she could become a citizen of Bangladesh (a country where she has never lived - and one where terrorist Islamist groups are much more active than they are in Britain). Bangladesh says that she is not and cannot become a citizen.

Kenan Malik summed it up well in the Observer of 17 February:

"In any case, views alone, however odious, should not be a matter for criminal sanction. If Begum is to face due process, it should be for her actions, not her views.

"Could Begum pose a security threat to Britain? Possibly. But then she would equally do so to Iraq or Syria or Kurdistan or wherever else she ends up. It would be morally contemptible for Britain to insist that some other nation take that risk.

"Britain’s obligations to its citizens – and to other nations – are not diminished by the fact that those citizens may have committed appalling acts...

"What separates a nation such as Britain from the barbarism of Isis, politicians often claim, is that Britain abides by the rule of law and is defined by humane values. It’s in these hard cases that we will discover how true that is".

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