NEWS
22/02/2019 07:39 GMT | Updated 22/02/2019 09:40 GMT

Shamima Begum's Family Plan To 'Challenge' Home Secretary's Decision To Revoke UK Citizenship

The Begum family wrote a letter to Sajid Javid.

PA Wire/PA Images

The family of Shamima Begum – the teenager who left the UK to join Islamic State in Syria – have written to home secretary Sajid Javid to challenge his decision to revoke her UK citizenship.

In the letter, published by the BBC and written by Begum’s older sister Renu Begum on the family’s behalf, the controversy is described as “a matter for the British courts”.

The family also asked for assistance in bringing the Isis bride’s newborn baby to the UK.

The document goes on to state “we have a duty to her, and a duty to hope that as she was groomed into what she has become, she can equally be helped back into the sister I knew, and daughter my parents bore.

“We hope you understand our position in this respect and why we must, therefore, assist Shamima in challenging your decision to take away the one thing that is her only hope at rehabilitation, her British citizenship.”

The family said they have had no contact with Begum and had only learned she had given birth to a boy through media reports.

They made clear they were “shocked and appalled” at the “vile comments” Begum had recently made to the media.

Begum was one of three schoolgirls to leave Bethnal Green to join the terror cult in 2015 and resurfaced heavily pregnant at a Syrian refugee camp last week.

Her family’s letter said they had made “every fathomable effort” to block her from entering IS territory.

“That year we lost Shamima to a murderous and misogynistic cult,” her sister wrote.

“My sister has been in their thrall now for four years, and it is clear to me that her exploitation at their hands has fundamentally damaged her.”

The home secretary revoked Begum’s British citizenship in a move only permissible under international law if it does not leave the individual stateless.

It was speculated that Begum, who is of Bangladeshi heritage, may have citizenship there, but Bangladesh’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Shahriar Alam, denied this.

Reuters
Renu Begum

Appealing directly to Javid, the family said: “We are sickened by the comments she has made, but, as a family man yourself, we hope you will understand that we, as her family cannot simply abandon her.

“We hope you understand our position in this respect and why we must, therefore, assist Shamima in challenging your decision to take away the one thing that is her only hope at rehabilitation, her British citizenship.”

Begum earlier told Sky News she had no desire to go to Bangladesh, adding: “I don’t have anything there, another language, I have never even seen the place.”

The Muslim Council of Britain warned Javid’s move heightens fears of “a two-tiered citizenship scheme, sets a dangerous precedent and demonstrates an abdication of responsibility”.

While many do not want to see Begum return to the UK, others have argued she should face prosecution for her actions, and attempts at de-radicalisation.

The Begum family’s lawyer, Tasnime Akunjee, said she was born in the UK, has never had a Bangladeshi passport and is not a dual citizen.

Alam added: “So, there is no question of her being allowed to enter into Bangladesh.”

Asked about the situation on ITV’s Peston, the home secretary said: “I’m not going to talk about an individual, but I can be clear on the point that I would not take a decision and I believe none of my predecessors ever have taken a decision that at the point the decision is taken would leave that individual stateless.”

He also suggested to the Commons that action to bar her from returning will not impact her son’s rights.

“If a parent does lose their British citizenship, it does not affect the rights of their child,” he said.

The British Nationality Act 1981 provides the home secretary with the power to strip people of citizenship if it is “conducive to the public good”.