NEWS
08/02/2020 16:54 GMT | Updated 08/02/2020 19:30 GMT

Shamima Begum Being Stripped Of Citizenship Causes Unease Among British People With Foreign Heritage Of A ‘Two-Tier System’

People voice fears that Shamima Begum’s banishment tells people with foreign descent that they are not fully British or fully accepted.

 

Shamima Begum losing the first stage of her appeal against the government’s decision to remove her UK citizenship has caused concern among people who believe it sets a dangerous precedent.

Begum, now 20, left London in 2015, aged 15, to join Islamic State and was  discovered in a Syrian refugee camp in February 2019.

Former Home Secretary Sajid Javid stripped her of her UK  citizenship and a tribunal ruled that Ms Begum could be stripped of her nationality because she had not been left stateless.

The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC), a semi-secret court which hears national security cases, said she could instead turn to Bangladesh for citizenship.

But Bangladesh’s ministry of foreign affairs said in February 2019 that Begum was not a Bangladeshi citizen and there was “no question” of her being allowed into the country.

However,  the decision has disturbed many who have taken to social media to voice their concerns and belief that it gives the message that there is a two-tier citizenship system: one for white British citizens and another for citizens with any foreign heritage.

 

 

But others feel it is justified and right that Begum has lost her right to British citizenship and have welcomed the news of her losing the first stage of her legal fight over her citizenship.

Begum’s lawyer, Daniel Furner, has said his client would “immediately initiate an appeal” against the decision “as a matter of exceptional urgency”.

He added the dangers Begum faced had now increased and her chances of survival were “even more precariously balanced than before”.

At present, she remains in Camp Roj, a refugee camp in northern Syria. 

 

 

Tasnime Akunjee, the lawyer acting for Begum’s family says that the decision opens up a lot of issues over who exactly could be stripped of their citizenship in the future.

He told HuffPost UK: “A lot of people who support the idea that Shamima Begum was stripped of citizenship think it only applies to someone in the context of terrorism.

“But if you look at the legislation, the class of people who could be stripped of citizenship whose family hark from somewhere else could be anyone who the Home Secretary does not consider conducive to the public good.

“Often, such legislation is  started with the most unsavoury characters, but then it is rolled out to lots of different people.

“Most people consider the country they are born in and where they live and pay their taxes to be their country and their home.

“What this legislation is saying is that this is not necessarily the  case, even if you have not lived or travelled anywhere else.

“I feel this sets a dangerous precedent and communicates to the British public  that one British passport in one person’s hands is not the same as one in someone else’s  hand – it is a two tier system.

″To have these types of laws used to strip people of citizenship by the Home Office and the culture of unlawfulness it is demonstrating is deeply worrying.”