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Shamima Begum's mother asks UK government to show 'mercy' for daughter

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Shamima Begum's mother asks UK government to show 'mercy' for daughter
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The mother of Shamima Begum, an exiled former bride of an Islamic State (IS) fighter, has asked the government to reconsider its decision to take away the teenager's British citizenship.

A letter to the Home Office written on behalf of Asma Begum and published on Twitter by the family's lawyer asked the British government to do so as an "act of mercy".

“We write specifically on behalf of Mrs Begum, Shamima Begum’s mother, to ask you to reconsider your previous decision dated 19 February 2019 to deprive her daughter Begum of her British citizenship … Ms Begum requests this reconsideration, as an act of mercy, on the basis of the following new information, namely the death of her newborn son.”

UK government is facing widespread criticism on Saturday in the wake of the death of an exiled IS bride's baby.

Shamima Begum, 19, left London with her two school friends in 2015 to join the so-called IS.

She returned to the spotlight last month when she took part in media interviews saying she wanted to return home.

A then-heavily pregnant Begum told The Times from Syria's al-Hawl refugee camp that she was concerned for the safety of her unborn child, having already lost two children in her four years with the militant group.

Despite her public pleas, the UK government was not sympathetic, and later stripped the teenager of her British citizenship.

She gave birth to her son, Jarrah, in mid-February, but he died in a Syrian hospital just weeks later.

The news was confirmed by a spokesperson for the Syrian Democratic Forces, and the Begum family's lawyer on Twitter.

READ MORE: 'I don't regret coming here', says British schoolgirl who ran away to join ISIS

READ MORE: What is Europe's approach to repatriating ISIS members? | Euronews answers

A huge public debate has since begun over the UK's decision to punish Begum with removing her citizenship, and whether more could have been done for the child.

Diane Abbott, the UK's shadow home secretary, said the infant's death was "a stain on the conscience" of the government.

"It is against international law to make someone stateless," she wrote in the statement.

"And to leave a vulnerable young woman and an innocent child in a refugee camp, where we know infant mortality to be high, is morally reprehensible."

Anna Soubry, a former Conservative Party MP now sitting with the newly-formed Independent Group, said it was "wrong to take away Shamima Begum's British citizenship in the first place."

She "is our responsibility whatever she may or may not have done however abhorrent her views."

Others suggested UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who made the order to strip Begum's citizenship, was responsible for the child's death.

"Let's call it straight," Roshan M Salih, the editor of British Muslim news outlet 5Pillars, wrote on Twitter, "Sajid Javid killed Shamima Begum's baby."

But UK parliament leader Andrea Leadsom stood by the government's decision to revoke the girl's citizenship, citing reasons of safety and security.

"Any baby dying is an absolute tragedy, and that was a British baby," Leadsom told Reuters.

"But nevertheless the home secretary's core job is to protect people of the United Kingdom."

In a similar sentiment, some Twitter users laid blame with the IS militant group.

"Don't take away agency!" London-based Julie Lenarz said. "It was Shamima Begum's decision to join IS. To have children with an IS fighter. To show no remorse."

"She's not the victim. Her victims were dumped in mass graves. The baby is the latest victim in a long line of innocents perished because of these monsters."