The Shamima Begum Crisis
By Sabahat Ali
What happens when young women abandon the UK to join ISIS in Syria? More importantly, what happens when they want to come back? To find out what Londers think about Shamima Begum, the 15-year girl who left her British home and had her citizenship removed, leaving her stateless, we took to the streets. The answers were astonishing.
Shamima Begum has become one of the most controversial names in every UK household for being the face of ISIS Brides – young women who get up and leave their home countries (in her case, Britain) to join the Syrian-based militant group. She was 15 years old when she left the UK with two other girls, and watched the rise and fall of IS in Syria with her own eyes. After watching her two children die in infancy, and experiencing the Syrian IS regime, she sought to return to the UK. While she waited for the British government to deliberate, her son – just 18 days old – died as well. Ultimately, the government revoked her British passport and citizenship.
The outcry from human rights groups clashing with Britons who contended that she had committed treason against her country by joining ISIS, and therefore deserved what she got, was deafening. While UK papers plastered headlines on their pages, the rest of the country also hotly debated the issue.
That’s when things became complicated.
Leaving her stateless was illegal, by both national and international laws. However, the British government argued that the Bangladeshi government should take her, as her parents were from Bangladesh. When the Bangladeshi government also denied her citizenship, many raised fundamental questions about a government’s ability to render a person’s citizenship void. What’s more, others asked important questions about the alleged ‘over 400 other’ people who had left for ISIS but had returned to the UK with their citizenships intact. Still others were convinced that the death of her infant son was on the conscience of Britain – a death, they argued, which could and should have been prevented by allowing the innocent baby back in, who was, after all, a British citizen.
It was at this time that His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba), Head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, was asked during a press conference by major media outlets about Shamima Begum and her situation.
Speaking to news agencies eager to get his Holiness’ stance on the whole ordeal, he said,
‘When this issue started, our stance was that she should be allowed to come to the country for the sake of the child. She should be tried in the court. Unfortunately, it is said the child has expired now, so now it is up to the government.’
He went on to say,
‘She has been denied the right of being a citizen of the country, then – now – other Muslim countries should take her.’
Clarifying that groups like ISIS have nothing to do with the teachings of Islam and act strictly for their own political agendas, His Holiness said,
‘Islam never says that you should commit such brutalities which are being done by Daesh or any other extremist group.’
Before the end of the day, headlines read – ‘Senior Muslim leader: Muslim country should adopt IS bride Shamima Begum.’
And so, we took to the streets of London to find out exactly what it is that the British public has to say about the entire Shamima Begum crisis, especially in light of the statements of the Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba).