Islamic State bride Shamima Begum has branded the Government’s decision to revoke her British citizenship as “unjust”.
Nineteen year old Begum left the UK to travel to Syria at the age of 15, along with two fellow London schoolgirls, where she married an ISIS foreign fighter.
‘A bit shocked’
The teenager, who recently gave birth to a son, hoped to return the UK and has said she was “a bit shocked” at learning her wish has been denied.
Begum was shown a copy of a Home Office letter which set out the action against her.
Speaking from a Syrian refugee camp, where she is staying with her newborn baby, she said, “I don’t know what to say. I am not that shocked but I am a bit shocked.
“It’s a bit upsetting and frustrating. I feel like it’s a bit unjust on me and my son. It’s kind of heartbreaking to read.
“My family made it sound like it would be a lot easier for me to come back to the UK when I was speaking to them in Baghuz. It’s kind of hard to swallow.”
Begum also suggested other returnees are “being sent back to Britain” and claimed her case should be no different.
She told ITV news, “I don’t know why my case is any different to other people, or is it just because I was on the news four years ago?”
An alternative option?
Begum has since suggested she may now attempt to seek citizenship in the Netherlands, where her husband is from.
“Maybe I can ask for citizenship in Holland,” she said.
“If [my husband] gets sent back to prison in Holland I can just wait for him while he is in prison.”
Comments made by the teenager have sparked an intense debate about the UK’s responsibilites to those seeking to return from Syria, with the Home Secretary announcing the decision on Tuesday (19 Feb) that Begum’s citizenship would be revoked.
The British Nationality Act 1981 provides the Home Secretary with the power to take such action if it is “conducive to the public good”.
The Home Office said, “We do not comment on individual cases, but any decisions to deprive individuals of their citizenship are based on all available evidence and are not taken lightly.”
‘A complex issue’
A long legal battle over the dramatic move is now looming, as international law forbids nations from making people stateless.
The decision has also sparked speculation that Begum, who is reportedly of Bangladeshi heritage, holds dual nationality, or would be eligible for citizenship in another country.
Her family said she was born in the UK, has never had a Bangladeshi passport and is not a dual citizen.
Lord Carlile, former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, said Begum could challenge the decision, but described the situation as as a “complex issue” that could take a while to resolve.
“It could run for a very long time through the courts,” he told BBC Breakfast.
“I suspect that the result is going to be that she will stay where she is for maybe two years at least.”