Shamima Begum: British Bengalis divided on whether IS teen should be allowed to return home

Shamima Begum: British Bengalis divided on whether IS teen should be allowed to return home
By Shafi Musaddique and Jason Parkinson
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A divide is opening in the British Bangladeshi community in East London, where Shamima Begum spent her formative years, over whether the teen who ran away to join to self-styled Islamic State should return home


A debate over whether Shamima Begum, the 19-year-old Briton who fled the UK to join her IS-fighter husband in Syria, should return to Britain, has raged across the country since journalists came across her in a refugee camp.

The Home Office sent the teen's family a letter on Tuesday saying it intends to remove her British citizenship, their lawyer said.

Yet, perhaps the biggest difference in opinion can be found in the British Bangladeshi community in east London, where Shamima Begum spent her formative years.

Imran Ali, 35, works in a local shop in the London borough of Tower Hamlets.

He said there “needs to be punishment” for anyone running away to Syria.

Kazi Shahen Shah, a 44-year-old immigration lawyer, said Begum should be allowed back in, but only on the condition that the UK government imposes “a lot of restrictions" and suggested, "she can be monitored and we can learn from her".

Shah had sympathy for Begum’s newborn child, Jarrah, who is now in the spotlight over his own entitlement to British citizenship.

“We have to think about the newborn child. I mean that is innocent, the boy is innocent and if the boy has become a British citizen, it’s supposed to be, you know, the state has the obligation to look after, the responsibility to look after the boy,” he said.

“The decisions she made are very, very radical. You don’t just get up on there and leave to a terrorist group and join them,” said self-employed Hodan Abdullhi, who is also 19-years-old.

“I feel like its mixed emotions but then at the same time there should be a bit of sympathy because she was born in this country and her sending her to Bangladesh is really not going to solve any problems,” she added.

UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid revoked Begum’s citizenship on Tuesday on the basis of the British Nationality Act 1981, which states that he can take away a person’s citizenship “if the Secretary of State is satisfied that deprivation is conducive to the public good”.

Begum may not need to battle for citizenship for her newborn son, Jarrah.

Speaking to the House of Commons on Wednesday, Javid said he believed that "children should not suffer" on account of the actions of parents.

"If a parent loses their British citizenship, it does not affect the rights of their child," he added.

The family now has 28 days from the day on which they received the letter from the Home Office (Tuesday) to push an appeal forward.

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