This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
Dublin: 3 °C Tuesday 12 November, 2019
Advertisement

British teen who had citizenship revoked says decision was 'unjust'

There is concern that this move could set a “dangerous precedent”.

Image: Met Police

BRITISH TEENAGER SHAMIMA Begum, who joined the Islamic State group in Syria in 2015 has said she was shocked by a government decision to revoke her citizenship.

She wants to return home after giving birth in a refugee camp in Syria last weekend, and said the order was “unjust”.

“I am a bit shocked,” she told ITV News after learning of the move which was announced in a letter yesterday from Britain’s interior ministry to her mother in London.

“It’s a bit upsetting and frustrating. I feel like it’s a bit unjust on me and my son.”

Begum’s fate has stirred controversy since she and two friends fled her east London home to join the terror network four years ago when she was aged just 15.

The case highlights a dilemma facing many European countries, divided over whether to allow jihadists and IS sympathisers home to face prosecution or barring them over security concerns as the so-called “caliphate” crumbles.

A spokeswoman for the interior ministry said yesterday it would not comment on individual cases, “but any decisions to deprive individuals of their citizenship are based on all available evidence and not taken lightly”.

She added that interior minister Sajid Javid was intent on prioritising “the safety and security of Britain and the people who live here”.

“In order to protect this country, he has the power to deprive someone of their British citizenship where it would not render them stateless.

Tory MP George Freeman said the decision was “a mistake and a dangerous precedent”.

“She was born here, educated here and is our responsibility. We should defend our system and she should be brought back to face the UK courts.”

Begum gave birth to her third child at the weekend, and appealed to British authorities to show “compassion” by allowing her to raise the baby in Britain — while expressing no regret over having joined IS.

‘All legal avenues’ 

In the ministry’s letter sent to Begum’s mother, it said the teen had the right to appeal the order. A lawyer for her family said it was disappointed with the move.

“(The) family are very disappointed with the… intention to have an order made depriving Shamima of her citizenship,” Tasnime Akunjee said.

“We are considering all legal avenues to challenge this decision.”

Begum, who is of Bangladeshi heritage, was born in Britain, has never had a Bangladeshi passport and is not a dual citizen, according to Akunjee.

The interior ministry reportedly believes that she is entitled to claim citizenship in the south Asian country.

Chiranjiv Sarker, head of the consular wing and dual nationality issues at Bangladesh’s foreign ministry, told AFP it was aware of the case but had not received any contact from the family.

“So far none of her family members (has) approached us,” he said. “What I learn from newspapers is that Shamima was trying to return to Britain.”

He added that, if approached, the ministry would need to try to verify Begum’s Bangladeshi heritage to assess any possible eligibility for citizenship.

- © AFP 2019 with reporting by Michelle Hennessy.

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

About the author:

AFP

Read next:

COMMENTS (119)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel