Shamima Begum, a 19-year-old United Kingdom citizen, who fled Britain to marry an ISIS fighter in 2015, is now at the risk of losing her British citizenship. The Bangladeshi-origin British national has also been refused any claims to a Bangladeshi citizenship
Earlier this month Shamima Begum, a 19-year-old British citizen, who left the country to join the ISIS four years ago, pleaded the UK government to grant her permission to return home, after giving birth to a boy in a refugee camp in North-East Syria. After refusing Shamima Begum’s request, in a letter to Begum’s family, Britain asserted the possibility of revoking the Bangladeshi-origin British teenager’s citizenship rights entirely. Amid speculations about Begum attaining a Bangladeshi citizenship, the Asian nation has denied all claims to the teenager having a dual citizenship, further asserting that she is a British citizen by birth.
The Bangladesh State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shahriar Alam has said, “The government of Bangladesh is deeply concerned that [Begum] has been erroneously identified as a holder of dual citizenship.” He further clarified, “Bangladesh asserts that Ms Shamima Begum is not a Bangladeshi citizen. She is a British citizen by birth and never applied for dual nationality with Bangladesh. Adding, “There is no question of her being allowed to enter into Bangladesh.”
In an earlier statement, Shamima Begum also clarified that she did not have Bangladeshi citizenship. She said, “I wasn’t born in Bangladesh, I’ve never seen Bangladesh and I don’t even speak Bengali properly, so how can they claim I have Bangladeshi citizenship”.
The statement came soon after the British government asserted the likelihood of stripping Shamima Begum of her citizenship. The British Home Secretary, Sajid Javid revealed plans to revoke the IS recruit’s citizenship for security reasons earlier this week. He asserted, “My number one job is to do whatever I can to keep this country safe”, adding that he will not hesitate to remove citizens from their nationality “if that is the only option for me to keep people safe in the United Kingdom”
Clarifying his stance on the future of Shamima Begum’s infant, the British Home Minister later told the House of Commons, “Children should not suffer, so if a parent loses their British citizenship it does not affect the rights of their child.” In a letter to the Home Minister, Shamima Begum’s sister Renu Begum wrote, “We were pleased to learn from your comments in the Commons that you recognise my nephew, Shamima’s son, as a British citizen.”
Responding to the possibility of being stateless, Shamima Begum said, “I have one citizenship… and if you take that away from me, I don’t have anything. I don’t think they are allowed to do that… This is a life-changing decision and they haven’t even spoken to me.”
According to an exclusive interview with the teenager, she had two children prior to the birth of her newborn, one of whom died when the living conditions in the IS camps got tougher. After the death of her son, Shamima Begum, pregnant with her third child at the time, decided to leave the Islamic State with her daughter in hope of returning home. Begum joined the Islamic State at the age of 15 and within weeks of arriving at Raqqa, she married a 27-year-old Dutch convert to Islam, Yago Riedijk.
Now, living in a refugee camp with her two children, Shamima Begum has asserted “I feel a lot of people should have sympathy for me, for everything I’ve been through. You know, I didn’t know what I was getting into when I left… I was hoping that maybe for the sake of me and my child they let me come back. Because I can’t live in this camp forever. It’s not really possible.”
Shamima Begum’s family has condemned her “sickening” comments in the media about the Manchester Arena bombings being “justified”. However, in her letter to the Home Minister, Begum’s sister asserted, “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.”