The return of Shamima Begum

Source: Bing Images

If someone were to label modern-day British society, they would likely describe it as one of civility, equality, and (mostly) fairness. Although this statement is widely debatable – particularly given the recent BLM protests and other similar events – one may delve into the dedication of the government towards the human rights it subscribes to, supposedly defended by an innate sense of morality.

So why the disdain towards Shamima Begum?

Mention this young woman, and the interviewee may closet up their previous emanations of national awe. They will name her a traitor, a terrorist, a criminal undeserving of British protection.

And here lies the fundamental flaw in the vast number of people and their perception of civility and human rights. 

According to a Sky Data poll, 78% of Britons support the revoking of Begum’s citizenship. But who is to say the average Briton’s opinion should have any weight on the matter. The case remains – an individual cannot remain stateless, the supposed dual British-Bangladeshi citizenship adhered to Shamima is rejected by Bangladesh, declaring her unwelcome within the country. She has never held a Bangladeshi passport and was born in the UK. Consequently, her home is, and always should be, her place of birth.

When we consider the vast majority who are so macabrely keen on stripping Begum of her citizenship, their reasons are shallow and close-minded. In February 2015, she travelled with two other friends to Syria to join the jihad. Admittedly, she allegedly did not regret her choice in joining ISIL, yet is now an unwilling member as a result of the corruption and oppression that intoxicates the group. The position that Begum knew the consequences of joining ISIL is irrelevant; at 15, she could not lawfully decide to vote or to give consent. The press – particularly right-leaning mediums like The Sun or the Daily Mail – have manipulated the situation to make her appear worse than she is. 

The treatment of the British government has been cold and tactless when dealing with her situation. Originally claiming the so-called ‘Jihadi bride’ would not face terrorism charges if she returned, such a promise has been turned on its head and Shamina was subsequently stripped of her citizenship. Rather than being seen as a criminal, her situation should be understood as one of victimization; an underage teenager who sought ‘the good life’ (as advertised by those she sought to join). 

Although her betrayal of her home country was wrong, she has not been an active fighter but was rather forced into marriage; and if there was one punishment to dominate all others, it would be the loss of your child. And Shamima, now only 20, has lost all 3 of her children, the most recent 2 weeks after her citizenship to the UK was stripped – a death most definitely preventable.

So why should she be given a second chance?

The answer is simple. If forced to reside in Bangladesh, she will be subject to the death penalty. She already lives in dire conditions in a refugee camp, and her human rights have been callously disregarded both in court and in the treatment given to her by ISIL terrorists. Additionally, in a BBC interview on the 18th February 2019, Shamima begged forgiveness, claiming how she was lured in by online propaganda that any impressionable teen (and legal minor) could have been taken in by. It has also been alleged that the entire decision regarding Shamina’s citizenship was directed by Savid Javid as an attempt to acquire popularity from the public, rather than the decision being taken for the reasons of it being the correct thing to do. 

Ultimately, the possibility for the case to be appealed is a positive one. Although the decision to revoke her citizenship has not been discarded, the court proceedings can hopefully go forward with civility and fairness. If found guilty of a crime, it is the responsibility of the UK to jail the 20 year old – not to pass this onto a country that will not consider her human rights. The rule of law must preside over any other political motivation, and a safely systematic prosecution of Shamina Begum is the responsibility of the UK. We can only hope the judicial system proves its worth and both protects Begum while disciplining her as deemed correct with regards to her crimes.