Allowing Shamima Begum to come back to the UK is a Grave Mistake – Conservative Article
When the story of Shamima Begum hit the news in 2019, it prompted a nation-wide debate. A wannabe ISIS bride abandoned mid-pregnancy by her ISIS groom was found in a refugee camp in Syria. Unsurprisingly, she wished to come back to the UK. However, the decision was made to revoke her citizenship and it seemed that the issue has been solved.
But as we learnt recently, with help from a family lawyer, Tasnime Akunjee, Shamima is making a comeback to fight her case. But what are the dangers?
There are a lot of differing opinions on what should happen to her. Sky News conducted a poll last year which revealed that 78% of Britons approved of Shamima being stripped of citizenship.
Her coming back is related to the fact that she isn’t able to have a fair hearing from Syria. She will be able to appeal to the decision of her citizenship removal from the UK. The problem here is that even the most modest council flat in the UK is far superior to the most luxurious tent in a refugee camp in Syria; so I have a strong feeling that if she does come back, she will simply never leave. This concern is shared by Sajid Javid, who was the one to make the decision to remove her citizenship in 2019.
People who are on her side argue that her being rendered stateless means she may end up dying in Syria. Naturally, we do need to consider humanitarian factors when dealing with such a complicated situation. But this begs the question – if she is allowed to come back and she manages to reinstate her citizenship; what about the security risks? Should we be putting at stake the safety of our nation to coddle to someone who consciously left the UK to join a terrorist group? I strongly doubt it.
The Mirror reports that if she will be placed on a Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measure, this could prove quite expensive. Adding in the costs of surveillance and accommodation, this could cost the taxpayers up to £10 million.
If we were to accept her back with open arms, is that going to set a precedent for the future? How many more people who have made such dangerous mistakes will try to come back? This may lead to profoundly serious security risks.
There should be a limit to forgive and forget and I think that Shamima Begum crossed that line at a very young age. The Independent reports that there have been 900 people who went to Syria from the UK. Half of them managed to return. Only 40 of them have been prosecuted. And if there will be another 450 coming back – is this worth putting our citizens at risk?
We need to remember that Shamima did state openly that she didn’t regret joining the Islamic State. She didn’t seem to be considering the actions of those people condemnable, she wasn’t even fazed by someone’s head being cut off.
“What is unique in Shamima’s case is the lack of remorse”, stated the director of the Centre of Radicalisation and Terrorism, Nikita Malik. If she’s not able to see the damage she’s done, how can we risk allowing her to come back? Shamima expressed these thoughts as an adult. This clearly shows that she’s had time to evaluate her behaviour and she still thinks that this was okay. Children over 10 years old can be prosecuted for their crimes – Shamima should face consequences for her irresponsible behaviour.
Of course, it might be true that it was just a mistake from when she was young. But we can not forget that actions must lead to consequences. Allowing her to come back to the UK after joining the enemy of the state will set a dangerous precedent for the future; this is not something we, as a nation, can agree to.
The repercussions of her coming back to the UK may be greater than letting her stay in Syria. Is a person, who knowingly and without regret joined the Islamic State, worth the grave security risks and immense cost that would come from the taxpayer?
Even if she were to be put on trial and face prison time, this would still be a cost to our citizens. The minimum sentence for acts of terrorism is 14 years and that’s only for the most dangerous terror offenders. But what’s going to happen when she’s released? She’s not only used taxpayer’s money to stay in prison, but she will also be able to walk free afterwards, potentially still monitored by the government. If that’s the case, wouldn’t it be better to simply allow her to be free in Syria?
There is no answer to what is going to happen to Shamima Begum. Will her appeal be successful? Is she going to stay in the UK if her appeal won’t help? Should we be really covering the costs of her security with our taxes? I believe these are all reasonable questions. Time will tell, I guess.
Written by Junior Conservative Writer, Dinah Kolka
Point of Information
A rare chance for justice – A Liberal Response
Shamima Begum has been accused by the press and the government of committing acts, both immoral and illegal, against the British state; a state that holds justice as a cornerstone of its society. The revocation of Begum’s citizenship is an attempt to avoid justice.
The costs in both monetary and safety terms are in no way insignificant. However, this doesn’t change the fact that we have an independent judiciary to hold accountable those who do wrong against the state and society. The authority to punish should never be in the hands of politicians or the media.
Removing Begum’s citizenship was the easy way out for the government. While Dinah is right to assert that “actions must lead to consequences”, the government has failed to act to ensure that she is a) guilty of what she is accused of and b) actually held accountable.
Justice is the culmination of a process; one which should not be placed in the hands of someone who cares about polling rather than the fundamental principles that hold our society together. Begum should face consequences. We need to know what they are and where she is. I would also like to know she has food and shelter and is not left for dead.
We have an opportunity to actually hold someone accountable. Begum knows that having British Citizenship is not her saving grace. She will not be free of justice should she return. She is effectively handing herself over, and we should not squander this opportunity.
Written by Guest Liberal Writer, Daniel Jones
The necessary context for a contextless narrative – A Labour Response
Shamima Begum was groomed as a child. She was 15. The idea that she “consciously” left the UK is misleading; it neglects all that we have come to understand about the nature of child grooming.
Responsibility has to be taken for one of your own citizens being groomed online when they are so young. I cannot fathom why the shortcomings of the online protection of vulnerable children has led to such a widespread lack of compassion.
And that is exactly where it has led. An entirely unsympathetic, uncompassionate and absolutist narrative which suggests that Shamima Begum had rid herself of her trauma and indoctrination upon the very moment she turned 18. The indoctrination that she experienced as a child is no less a part of her now than it was when she was 15.
As for the point about the difference in quality between a modest council flat in the UK and a luxurious tent in a refugee camp, I simply can’t understand the relevance of this. Are we supposed to take satisfaction from Shamima Begum living in poorer quality conditions?
From what Dinah has said, it would be better if we made things as uncomfortable as possible for her because then she might actually leave. Not only do I think this is unproductive and counterintuitive, but I also think it’s pretty abhorrent.
Furthermore, she was a British citizen. What kind of precedent does it set if we start stripping “undesirables” of their human rights? Citizenship is a fundamental and inalienable human right; Article 15 to be precise. Removing someone of their nationality is a significant abuse of power. One that should cause at least some concern in the eyes of other citizens.
While we’re at it, why don’t we also ignore Articles 10, 11, and 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? These articles only guarantee the right to an independent and impartial tribunal, the presumption of innocence, and the right to return to one’s own country. Sorry, we already did that, I forgot.
The idea that she is a security risk to “the safety of our nation” (it’s her nation too) is also mindless fearmongering. I would perhaps agree with this if there were absolutely no safety measures in place to monitor and, if necessary, arrest suspected terrorists. But these measures do exist, and they function every minute of every day. Shamima Begum will naturally be included as part of these measures.
As for the cost of this monitoring, that is the price that you are obliged to pay under the umbrella of a fair and just society that respects human rights.
In a similar vein, we don’t execute criminals because it would be cheaper than imprisoning them. That would be wrong. As a country, you should not be able to shirk off the financial responsibility of one of your own citizens, regardless of the illegality of their actions.
This is not to excuse her criminal actions; I believe that she has a lot to answer for. Instead, it is to demonstrate some understanding of the factors that led to her radicalisation and treat her as we treat any other British citizen who has been accused of a crime.
There is nothing that we can do about her past. However, there is a lot we can do to shape her future. That is the responsibility of Britain as her home nation.
Written by Guest Labour Writer, Jack Rolfe
I’m a queer loving feminist liberal, enough to make a hard-line conservative have an aneurism. I have been forced to this position having grown up witnessing and experiencing injustice first-hand. Politics sort of came to me, which it does if you are anything but a cis-white-heterosexual man. My life and the way I wanted to live it was unavoidably political, so I may as well get involved.
I am a third-year student at the University of Exeter, studying BSc Politics and International Relations. After graduating in the summer of 2020, I will be completing an MSc in Applied Social Data Science. I will also be the Treasurer of the Politics Society, as well as of the Uni Boob Team for the 2020/2021 academic year.