Keeping Shamima out

Renu Begum, eldest sister of Shamima Begum, 15, holds her sister's photo (Photo: Laura Lean - WPA Pool/Getty Images).
Renu Begum, eldest sister of Shamima Begum, 15, holds her sister's photo (Photo: Laura Lean - WPA Pool/Getty Images).

By Amit Roy

THE Supreme Court ruled last week that the Home Of­fice was right to keep Shamima Begum out of the country if the intelligence services felt she posed a threat to national security.

This is a strange case in which a Bangladeshi girl was stripped of her nationality by a Pakistani home secretary, with that decision supported by his Indian successor.

Do I really think that Shamima, now 21, who fled Britain as a 15-year-old schoolgirl to join Daesh (Is­lamic State) in Syria, is a clear and present danger to Britain? Probably not.

In the past, I have said that perhaps Shamima – I do feel sorry for her since she has lost three babies due to lack of medical care – should be let back on com­passionate grounds. But I guess the best way of ensur­ing she does not do any mis­chief is by making sure she doesn’t return.

And also, if the govern­ment makes an example of her, perhaps it will discour­age other girls from follow­ing her example. If they real­ise once you are out, you are out for good, they may think twice before venturing forth to offer themselves up as ji­hadi brides.

Initially, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) said then home sec­retary Sajid Javid’s decision to strip Shamima of her na­tionality in 2019 was lawful because she was “a citizen of Bangladesh by descent”.

This decision was over­turned by three appeal court judges, including an Indian, Lord Justice (Rabinder) Sin­gh, who said that “the only way in which she can have a fair and effective appeal is to be permitted to come into the United Kingdom to pur­sue her appeal.

“Fairness and justice must, on the facts of this case, outweigh the national security concerns, so that the leave to enter appeals should be allowed.”

But five Supreme Court judges said last week that the appeal court had “mis­takenly believed that, when an individual’s right to have a fair hearing… came into conflict with the require­ments of national security, her right to a fair hearing must prevail”.

Shamima’s right to a fair hearing did “not trump all other considerations, such as the safety of the public”.

Many human rights law­yers and commentators, even on the right, are argu­ing that if Shamima is a ter­rorist, she is a British terror­ist – and should not be dumped on someone else.

At least, Shamima is alive and may be allowed back many years from now. Her classmates, Amira Abase and Kadiza Sultana, who ran away with her – part of the “Bethnal Green trio” – were both killed in the fighting.

Curiously, the last photo­graph of Shamima revealed she had swapped her chador for jeans and sunglasses – the way she might be dressed were she living in London.

But if Shamima is kept out, the Home Office will have to be equally tough with white boys and girls who also joined Daesh, and some of whom have been let back.


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