Britain strips ISIS bride Begum of UK citizenship

Updated: Feb 22, 2019, 10:07 IST | Agencies | London

In a letter dated February 19, UK home secretary Sajid Javid wrote to Begum's family informing them that he had made an order revoking her citizenship

Shamima Begum fled to Syria from the UK in 2015. Pic/AFP
Shamima Begum fled to Syria from the UK in 2015. Pic/AFP

A British girl of Bangladeshi descent, who fled to join Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria in 2015 and married an Islamist extremist, has been stripped of her British citizenship. Shamima Begum, 19, who had expressed the desire to return to the UK with her newborn son, was banned on Tuesday from entering the country. In a letter dated February 19, UK home secretary Sajid Javid wrote to Begum's family informing them that he had made an order revoking her citizenship.

Begum, who is currently in a Syrian refugee camp, described the move as "unjust". "I am not that shocked but I am a bit shocked. It's a bit upsetting and frustrating. I feel like it's a bit unjust on me and my son," she told 'ITV News' channel from the camp. Begum claimed that she was being treated harshly because "I was on the news four years ago", saying that she heard of "other people being sent back to Britain".

"I don't know why my case is any different," she added. She said she could try to apply for Dutch citizenship on the basis of the nationality of her ISIS-recruit husband, who is currently in prison. "If he gets sent back to prison in Holland, I can just wait for him while he is in prison," she said.

In February 2015, Begum was a student of Bethnal Green Academy in east London alongside Amira Abase and Kadiza Sultana when the three teenagers became on-the-run jihadi brides — women who choose to marry Islamist extremists to bear them children to carry on the fight. Under the 1981 British Nationality Act, the UK home secretary has the power to deprive a person of their citizenship if satisfied that it would be "conducive to the public good" and they would not become stateless as a result.

Online petition against bride
An e-petition started last week since Begum's case hit the headlines has attracted nearly 45,000 signatures calling for preventing her return to the UK. "Shamima Begum has clearly stated she has no regrets, and only wants to return to the UK, as she is pregnant and wants free health care and benefits," the petition reads.

Civilians evacuated from IS holdout
A convoy of trucks carrying civilians has left the last enclave held by Islamic State militants in eastern Syria. An AP team says at least eight trucks emerged on Wednesday from a humanitarian corridor used to evacuate people.

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