Should jihadi brides be permitted to return to Britain?

Syria map. CC0 Public Domain.

In a guest post for this site, Liberal Democrat councillor Rabina Khan takes a look at the issue:

The majority of the British public would agree with me in that they utterly condemn anyone – regardless of age or motivation – who betrays their country by fleeing to ISIS and supporting the actions of terrorists. Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, said he would not hesitate to prevent the return of Britons who joined IS, yet Justice Secretary, David Gauke, said that we cannot make people stateless.

Nevertheless, there are some, like Jacob Rees-Mogg who feel that we should have sympathy for pregnant Shamima Begum, who was radicalised at such a young age and who has already had two babies who have died. Her family have begged for her to be allowed to return to East London. Whether Shamima gives birth to her child in Syria or in Britain, the danger is that another innocent child will also be indoctrinated. We do not need any more homegrown extremists. However, she did not show the same regard for her first two babies and she admitted that when she saw her first severed head, it didn’t faze her at all.

Others may question whether she should still be judged on a choice she made when she was only 15, yet she is 19 now and shows no remorse for that decision. She has made it clear that she has not renounced her support for ISIS and its aims, so why would we allow someone who is completely influenced by ISIS propaganda to return to our country just to take advantage of our health, education and benefits’ system? Some would say that she made her bed, so she should lie in it.

Haras Rafiq, Chief Executive of the counter-extremism organisation Quilliam, suggested that the “intellectual and right thing to do” would be for her to go before the courts. Former MI6 Director, Richard Barrett, accused the government of a “complete lack of concern for her plight” and felt that Britain should be strong enough to take her back.

The issue of her possible return is a very complex one at many levels.  We should not lower ourselves to the level of extremist psychopaths like ISIS and judge her on the basis of dogma. We are British and that is not what we do. What we do need to determine is why and how she and her friends were radicalised. How many other young British schoolchildren are being radicalised as we speak? It is understood that at least one of the other girls she travelled with has died. Are her beliefs so entrenched that she does not fear death?

Perhaps, if she is allowed to return, she could play a valuable role in identifying how and why young people “voluntarily” choose to reject our common values to join and embrace jihad with seemingly no regard for her own or others’ lives.

The NSPCC are doing their best to protect children from radicalisation. They offer advice to anyone who is worried about a child and provide advice on spotting the signs. The Counter-Terrorism and Security Act (2015) places a Prevent duty on early years settings “to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”.

The shock has certainly not diminished in our Tower Hamlets community and our children and communities are not safe until we know the answers.

UPDATE: Rabina Khan has returned to this issue in “If Shamima Begum is to be prosecuted at home, the public must be told exactly how she was radicalised“.

7 responses to “Should jihadi brides be permitted to return to Britain?”

  1. She cannot, should not, be made stateless. As a British citizen, she should be allowed to return. If we can take reasonable steps to help her, we should, her child too. It’s not a negotiation.
    She will face investigation. She may be prosecuted, but we don’t have ‘thought’ police, so she should not be punished for thoughts alone. At the least, once here, she should be given support and advice by her parents.
    She was a child when she made the fateful decision to go to Syria. We should do our best to protect children even when they make grave mistakes. Now she has a child. We should do our best to protect that child. We have people skilled in assessing difficult child protection cases. We should leave it to the professionals.

  2. She, as a British Citizen, must be allowed to return, that is the law. What we, as a Country, do not have to do is assist. If she turns up at a UK boarder, under her own steam, she has to be allowed in and dealt with under UK law, not one penny or person shoukd be used to get her here.

  3. There should be no question that, as a British citizen, she should be allowed to return to the U.K. In the meanwhile she will need papers for her and her child to get to the U.K. These should be provided.
    To me the important issue is that we uphold the rule of law. The present trial by media is objectionable. I do not accept that it is reasonable to listen to a few remarks she makes on the television and draw conclusions. There is such a thing as post traumatic stress.
    To me it is all very simple. We have laws. We keep them. If the laws are not good enough, we change them.

  4. As I would expect ona Lib Dem site I find myslef largely in sync with colleagues. She is British; she mus tbe allowed to return (N.B. NOT endanger British servicemen ot ‘get her out’) AND , on return face appropriate legal processes for laws she ahs broken adn almost certianly enter a secure psychaatric facility to deal with her unfazed reactiuon to severed heads in bins.
    I am astounded -cf Question time – that I am in agreement with Jacob Rees Mogg. What an old fashioned liberal he turns out to be!!
    However I am also on the former members of the Royal Navy site and I can assure you that thus far I am in a minority of one. The universal view is let her rot – AND let her unborn -now born son – go to perdition. Have had similar (and even stranger comments [no to the baby ..it has genes…!] from local folk being soft canvassed while delivering focus.)
    The purpose in my writing this is simply to let colleagues know what strange bedfellows we have on this one – e.g Rees Mogg! BUT that we are utterly out of touch with the general view of the public.
    Any one got some realisitc ideas as to how to bring a proportion of our nation towards decency and sanity on this!?

  5. She is a British Citizen. The notion of being “allowed” to return is offensive. She has every right to do so and nobody needs to ”allow” it.

    Should she excercise that right then she would be subject to arrest and investigation and possible prosecution.

    As far as I am aware she was born here, and so is a British Citizen from birth. If so then her child, even though born abroad is a British Citizen by Descent.

    All citizens have equal rights, whether we approve of their actions or not. Her action are to be despised, but that’s not a reason to strip some of British Citizenship. There have been many much more despicable people, child murderers, paedophiles, etc who were and remain British.

  6. Some worthy comments but let us broaden them:
    She apparently was born in Bangladesh and according to well known Barrister Blogger if she has dual nationality she would not necessarily be stateless if her British citizenship was revoked.
    It is also possible, as she is married to Dutch jihadist Yago Riedjk, that she could apply for Dutch citizenship.
    Now she has a son, who both she and her husband decided to name after a brutal jihadist commander, Jarrah, the position has perhaps become more complicated, but with more options.
    Their son under Sharia law is able to be named after his father, and he is not “her” son, but “their” son.
    There are four possibilities as to who could look after Jarrah;
    Shamima herself if allowed to do so, alongside her husband, if he is released
    Shamima’s parents
    Her husband’s parents
    The social services in the UK or Holland

    There would be a fifth possibility and that is the family remaining in Syria, once full investigations had been made by the Kurdish and Syrian authorities about whether either Shamima or her husband have been culpable in any crimes. Would it not be entirely suitable for these two individuals to put right some of the extensive damage caused to the Syria they decided to settle in ? In fact, as the secular Syrian government has a successful rehabiliation programme for jihadists, they are experienced in this area.
    Yago , having left Holland and being sentenced in his absence for six years for a foiled terrorist attack at Arnhem, could return for his punishment, but would that be just if he potentially has been involved in other acts of terrorism in Syria ?
    Of course Jesus preached in Syria and St. Paul had his road to Damascus conversion. With that in mind, we should exercise Christian charity and forgiveness to both of them, if they seek forgiveness. But there appears to be no remorse from either of them as yet. But we have to keep open minds on this subject.

  7. I’m delighted to read Rafina’s post (much more concise than my effort, I can tell you) and how much in tune I am with what she says. Shamima requires evaluation, the whole situation needs properly investigated and there may well be criminal charges for her to answer. Certainly, I believe in offering the opportunity to rehabilitate people.

    There are many in life who hold views that later they dismiss – I’m one of them. Her reaction to the situation she was in was not uncommon for those in extreme situations; to be brutally fair it’s pretty much the same way my grandmother reacted when her friends died in front of her during the Second World War. Lessons must be learned from so many agencies as to how she managed to leave the country as she did, not to mention slip through the Prevent programme at her school.

    This is a complex situation, requiring proper investigation and to be honest I’ve been disgusted at the misogyny and racism expressed in the media and on social media. She is a British citizen. We are better than that.

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