The Shamima Begum Dilemma: A Muslim Brit and Other Voices

ONE = Dr SLM Rifai: “The Dillemma a of British Muslims,” 21 February 2019

The primary objective of this short article is to examine and evaluate the social impacts and legal consequences of Shamima Begum’s case. It has been reported that Home Office has already sent a letter to the family of Shamima saying that it has decided to revoke British citizenship of Shamima. According to INDEPENDENT newspaper “The Government has deprived Shamima Begum of her British citizenship, allegedly making her stateless and violating international law” (19/2/19). Yet, her new born baby has been given every right to settle in the UK. However, the secretary for justice has said that Shamima Begum has right to return to UK, but she should face the court of law in this country. This contrasting view has created some legal debates in the UK about this issue.

It is reported that the Home Secretary Sajid Javid has got some excessive power to remove the citizenship of any one who is regarded as a threat to the national security of the United Kingdom. He can do this protect the public interest or “public good”. Such an action can be taken by Home Secretary if he feels that such a person could get a nationality of any other country. In this case, Bangladesh government has categorically said Shamima Begun has got no connection to Bangladesh. So, they have declined to accept her back into Bangladesh. With this action of Home Secretary, Shamima Begum will become stateless person soon. Yet, she will be able to join her Husband. Her husband is a Dutch citizen who has been detained for his alleged connection with ISIS. Yet, once he is released Shamima Begun could join her husband to settle in Holland. If this happens removing her of British citizenship will be meaningless. Because she could come back to Britain under Dutch passport. Then this hasty action of Home secretary will be null and void.

Why did Home Secretary take such as a hasty action? It is reported that he wants to please public. He is responding to the public outcry on this case. Yet, contrary to his decision to remove Shamima Begun of her British citizenship there are so many British people including [the] Justice secretary who feels that Shamima Begun should be allowed to return to Britain. They argue that she must be produced in court of law for investigation in accordance with British law. They feel that she must pay the price for her mistakes. They feel that she should be rehabilitated like many other convicted Muslim extremists who have returned from Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.  Yes, she has made some terrible mistakes. She had made some childish decisions. She was a 15 years old girl when she went to Syria with her friends. All  of them are teenage girls. They were 15 years old girl when they went to Syria. It appears that some groups might have inspired, influenced and forced them to go to Syria. There are so many circumstantial factors around these girls’ travel to Syria.

Who brain washed them with radical ideas? Which group did this? Did they get their parents approval to travel? Why did not immigration officials stop them leaving the country at the Airport? Why did not British police stop them from traveling out? What about school authority? What about local authority and social service? Why did not they alert the authorities as soon as these girls were missing? When Shamima Begun travelled out of the UK she was just 15 years old. So, she was not legally responsible at this age. Moreover, she claims that she did not fight in Syria and she claims that she has been a house wife for the last 4 years? Did she engage in any terrorism activities? It is reported that she did not express any regret over what ISIS do? It can be said that her life was under threat from ISIS in Syria. She might have said she did not have any remorse over what ISIS did for fear of her life. It does not make sense to say that she wants to come back to UK and yet, she does not regret what ISIS do? It appears she might have told all this to the media to appease ISIS under duress. Otherwise, she might have been killed by them. People under ISIS do not have freedom to express freely as they want to express.

I think politicians wants to make some political drama out of this case and yet, I firmly believe that British legal system is one of the best legal systems in the world.  No politician could interfere in the legal system of British judiciary. Thanks God, people in Britain have been protecting the integrity of judiciary for many centuries in this country. Justice is unconditional to all in this country. Immigration judges will investigate this case objectively and if they think that her British citizenship has been unfairly removed, immigration judges will reverse the decision of Home Secretary on this case. I personally feel this decision to remove her British citizenship is not fair decision. This is little bit a harsh decision and it appears somewhat a prejudicial decision.

Suppose if this girl is a British convert. What would be the action of Home Secretary, Will he remove citizenship of Indigenous British girl? Will he make her stateless? I think this case is a wakeup call to all Muslim families in this country. It is a wake-up call for all to monitor how children are taught in religious schools and mosques. This case is a wake-up call to all Muslim community leaders in this country. It is a wake-up call to all Muslim groups to understand British contexts when they speak about Islamic teaching. Today, to speak for Islam and for Muslim community in this British context, Muslim clerics must know not only Islamic texts, but also, they must know how to apply Islamic teaching in these modern social contexts in this country. They must know modern social realities of European contexts to relate Islamic teaching in this new social environment. Unfortunately, today Muslim clerics do not understand modern social challenges of this digital world. Many Muslim clerics find it hard to relate Islamic teaching to modern conditions we live in today in this European continent. This case tells us that Muslim community suffers from some intellectual crisis. Muslim youths are misguided with so many radical ideologies. Shamima Begum is a victim of this Muslim radicalism. I’m sorry for her and for family. She has become victim of this Muslim radicalism. The entire Muslim religious leadership in this country must take some responsibility for this virus of Muslim radicalism. 

*** ***

TWO= “Shamima Begum, who joined the Islamic State group in Syria aged 15, is to lose her UK citizenship.

A teenager who joined the so-called Islamic State group in Syria at 15 and gave birth in a refugee camp has been stripped of her British citizenship.  Shamima Begum, whose fate has stirred controversy ever since she and two friends fled London to join the terror network in 2015 aged just 15, was reportedly told her British citizenship would be revoked via a letter from the Home Office on Tuesday.

According to a letter sent to her mother, Home Secretary Sajid Javid ordered the move against the now 19-year-old Londoner who wants to return to the UK with her newly born child as the so-called caliphate crumbles.

“Please find enclosed papers that relate to a decision taken by the Home Secretary, to deprive your daughter, Shamima Begum, of her British citizenship,” the letter read. “In light of the circumstances of your daughter, the notice of the Home Secretary’s decision has been served of file today (19 February), and the order removing her British citizenship has subsequently been made.”

Her family’s lawyer, Tasnime Akunjee, described the family as “very disappointed” over the move and said they are “considering all legal avenues.” Ms Begum’s mother, who received the letter, was also reportedly told her daughter had the right to appeal. The BBC said the family was now considering “all legal avenues” to challenge the decision.

 Shamima Begum begins her journey to join IS at Gatwick Airport in 2015 –AAP

UK teen who joined IS gives birth in Syrian refugee camp

Ms Begum left east London, with two school friends, in February 2015, creating international headlines. She was found in a Syrian refugee camp last week about  to give birth for the third time after seeing her first two children die –  after reportedly leaving Baghuz, IS’s last remaining stronghold. “I just gave birth so I’m really tired,” the 19-year-old said as she made a renewed appeal to be allowed back to Britain with her newborn baby. Shamima Begum said she only wants to return to the UK with her newborn baby. “I’m afraid he might even die in this camp. I feel a lot of people should have sympathy for me, for everything I’ve been through.

“I didn’t know what I was getting into when I left. I just was hoping that maybe for the sake of me and my child they let me come back. I fled the caliphate. Now all I want to do is come home to Britain.”

Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman said foreign IS fighters should be put on trial in places where they committed their crimes. “Foreign fighters should be brought to justice in accordance with due legal process in the most appropriate jurisdiction,” Downing Street said. “Where possible, this should be in the region where the crimes had been committed.”

The spokesman added that London continued “to work closely with our international partners on this”. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick has signalled she could be arrested and investigated if she returns to Britain.

US allies have been grappling for weeks with what to do with foreign fighters detained in the war-ravaged country by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. International law forbids nations from making people stateless by revoking their only citizenship, but it is possible Ms Begum, who is of Bangladeshi heritage, held dual citizenship.



Leave a comment

Filed under accountability, asylum-seekers, atrocities, authoritarian regimes, discrimination, disparagement, fundamentalism, historical interpretation, Islamic fundamentalism, jihad, legal issues, life stories, politIcal discourse, power politics, religiosity, security, self-reflexivity, the imaginary and the real, trauma, women in ethnic conflcits, world events & processes

Leave a Reply