No doubt you’ve heard the name Shamima Begum a lot over the past few weeks. The young mother, who fled to Syria at 15 years old to join ISIS, has just been denied UK citizenship and will not be let back into the country. There is no doubt that when she fled to join the group she was vulnerable, and had made the decision off the back of a campaign of radicalisation. In an ideal world the right decision would be to allow Shamima back in to the UK, put her on a fair legal trial for her actions and then start the process of rehabilitation to help her rebuild her life. But can we afford this risk?
Gathering the evidence to successfully prosecute her would prove a challenge and she would more than likely not be charged, as proof of her personal actions would be sparse. The Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, made the decision to revoke her citizenship in order to protect the safety of other UK citizens. Although Shamima was radicalised she still voluntarily got on the plane and went to Syria to support a terrorist organisation. In her own words she explained that the only evidence people have of her being a threat is that she was “in ISIS”. The very ideology and ethics of this group are based around creating a Muslim state in which Sharia law is in place, justifying attacks on ‘non-believers’ by saying that all those who do not believe seek to destroy Islam. Whether she was radicalised or not, this doesn’t change the fact that a person with this ideology is no doubt dangerous to the general public. The group she was part of holds the same worldview that those who conducted terror attacks such as the Manchester bombing also shared. The risk she poses is not worth taking if there is an option to exclude her from the UK.
Looking at interviews with Shamima it is difficult to find anywhere where she genuinely seems remorseful or has regret for her actions and support of ISIS. It seems extremely coincidental that she decides to try and return at the very moment ISIS are crumbling. It seems that she is not returning due to her having a change of heart but due to the fact ISIS are being defeated. The UK can’t just let terrorists leave and attempt to imprison, kill and force an ideology on others and then welcome them back with open arms when this doesn’t go to plan. I don’t think that anyone would be comfortable knowing that a terrorist is living in their community or alongside them, so why should we force this upon people? After all, how could she ever be integrated in to a community successfully with the prior knowledge that the very thing she stood for was to see Western civilisation imprisoned under an Islamic state? The Home Secretary was absolutely right to revoke her citizenship – for the safety of us all.
Image: Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Govt