Shamima Begum's father makes plea against revoking her citizenship

Shamima Begum's father makes plea against revoking her citizenship
3 min read
06 March, 2019
Shamima Begum's father, calling on the UK to return her citizenship.
Shamima Begum travelled to Syria along with two friends in 2015 [Getty]
The father of a British teenager who ran away to join the Islamic State group in Syria said his daughter's citizenship should not be revoked and that she should return to the UK and be punished if it was determined she had committed a crime.

Shamima Begum, 19, who left East London with two of her friends in 2015, hit global headlines recently when she said she would like to return to Britain, but was instead stripped of her British citizenship by the government.

Begum now lives in a Syrian refugee camp with her newborn son. Her Dutch husband, detained in a Kurdish-run centre, has said he wants to live with her in the Netherlands.

British Home Secretary Sajid Javid revoked Begum's citizenship - despite saying he wouldn't make a decision that would render a person stateless - on the grounds of her Bangladeshi heritage.

Bangladesh have said Begum is not a holder of dual citizenship. Her family in the UK are appealing the decision.

Begum's father, Ahmed Ali, told AP in an interview Tuesday in his Bangladeshi village that he would still request that the British government allow his daughter to come back.

"My child was only 15 years old when she fled, she was immature," said Ali, who lives in northeastern Bangladesh with his second wife.

Ali, 60, said he moved to England in 1975 and married his first wife, Asma Begum, in 1990. Shamima is the youngest of their four daughters.

"I would ask the British government not to cancel her citizenship, to return her citizenship, and if she is guilty, bring her back to Britain and give her punishment there," he said.

Comment: Citizenship is a basic right, even for Shamima Begum

Ali criticised the British authorities for failing to properly deal with the issue of students who fled to join IS, commenting on Begum's friend, who went to Syria a month before she did.

"The British government should have been alarmed about the matter, and they should have also inquired at the school to find out how she fled, since she was a student," he said.

"Then a month later, three more students fled. The authorities should investigate at the school why these students fled. They were not adults."

Although Begum's initial interviews with media outlets were unrepentant, Begum has since said she would like to return to the UK and become an "example of how someone can change".

The case of Begum has highlighted a dilemma facing many European countries, divided over whether to allow jihadis and IS sympathisers home to face prosecution or bar them as the so-called "caliphate" crumbles.

Some 400 people who joined IS in the early stages of the Syria conflict have since returned to the UK and around 40 of them have been prosecuted.

There are believed to be around ten British women who travelled to support IS who are now refugees in Syria.

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