A Wirral shooting range has defended using images of Isis bride Shamima Begum for target practice, saying the move was motivated by customer requests.
Images of the target allegedly used at Ultimate Airsoft Range in Wallasey were sent to the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show. One image appeared to be marked by around 100 holes, made using repurposed bullets.
It follows widespread media coverage of the 19-year-old runaway after she was discovered by The Times newspaper in a camp in northern Syria.
Begum, who was one of three schoolgirls from Bethnal Green to travel to Syria in 2015, has since said she regrets speaking to the media and has had her British citizenship revoked by Sajid Javid.
Justin Bieber, Margaret Thatcher and Donald Trump are among the other famous targets used by the same range, according the to Victoria Derbyshire show. Bullseye targets or a model of a human torso are normally used.
Labour MP Angela Eagle criticised the use: “It’s wrong to have real people in targets because they could be misinterpreted.”
She added that having living people in targets, including Trump or anyone else, “sends the wrong message, especially for six year olds who might be playing”, she said in a statement to the show.
The shooting range said in a statement: “The targets provide some fantastic reactions and conversations and allow people to have some lighthearted fun and bring out the inner child in us all.
“The targets don’t necessarily reflect personal opinions and [we] certainly don’t want to condone terrorism, but after watching the footage of Shamima Begum being interviewed, the lack of remorse and empathy that she had shown” made the company “listen to customers” and use images of her as their targets.
The move was condemned by the Muslim Council of Britain as “incredibly dangerous”.
The MCB said in a statement to HuffPost UK: “In a society where hate and violence against Muslims, particularly Muslim women, is most prevalent and on the rise, it is deeply concerning that people requested an image of a real person as a shooting target, especially in the presence of young children.”
The story drew mixed reaction on social media, with some claiming it was in keeping with effigies of controversial figures burned during bonfire season.
Others said it caused concern for Begum’s personal safety.
CORRECTION: This article has been amended to reflect that Wallasey is in The Wirral.