The Delicate Case of Shamima Begum

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Born within the UK to Bangladeshi mother and father, Shamima Begum left London as a 15-year-old in 2015. Utilizing her British passport, she traveled to Turkey with two of her mates from faculty. From there, Begum and her mates crossed into Syria, the place they met their Islamic State (IS) contacts. Whereas in Syria, Begum married an IS fighter. On February 19 this 12 months, the Particular Immigration Appeals Fee had stripped Begum of her citizenship as she was deemed to be a nationwide safety menace. On July 16, nevertheless, UK authorities granted this now grownup British lady, who had joined a terrorist group as an adolescent 4 years earlier, the fitting to return to Britain to problem the UK authorities’s removing of her citizenship.

The fee dominated that the choice to revoke Begum’s British citizenship didn’t render her stateless as, by default, the UK additionally thought-about her a Bangladeshi citizen “by descent.” Nonetheless, the Bangladeshi Ministry of International Affairs said that it didn’t contemplate her as a citizen of that nation. An announcement launched by Begum’s British attorneys argued that she certainly had by no means visited Bangladesh, nor had she ever utilized for twin nationality.

Made in Britain: Understanding the Realities of Radicalization


Within the meantime, the press has chastised Begum, who stays a detainee in a camp operated by ethnic Kurdish militias in northern Syria, for making controversial statements such and saying that seeing her first severed head didn’t faze her “in any respect” and suggesting that individuals ought to “have sympathy” towards her for every little thing she has been by.

Why Girls?

England’s Courtroom of Enchantment, in flip, unanimously agreed that Begum must be granted the fitting to have a good and efficient attraction of the choice to strip her of her citizenship, however provided that she is permitted to come back again to Britain. After all, that doesn’t assure the reinstatement of her citizenship rights, simply that she has a proper to current her case in particular person. Whatever the authorized wrangling and the talk in regards to the legality that her case has sparked, this instance sheds some mild on the difficulty of contextualizing feminine IS supporters and terrorists and the legality of stripping Western-born suspects of their European or North American citizenship.

There was some tutorial dialogue of why ladies, particularly younger ladies, who have been born, raised and educated within the West, migrate to IS-held territory and be part of terrorist teams, forsaking household, mates and a lifestyle whereas abandoning liberal values and alternatives that international locations such because the UK provide them. It’s troublesome to determine whether or not a selected feminine, equivalent to Shamima Begum, was a sufferer of IS, an energetic supporter or each. The broadly circulated tales of “jihadi brides” have projected a picture of confused and naïve women and girls touring to hitch the Islamic State. Whereas sure dynamics lured quite a lot of females to IS-held territories, many went of their very own free will. But it’s extremely debatable to what extent a 15-year-old understands the realities of this extremist group.

Muslim ladies have migrated to IS-held areas for a mess of causes, together with the romantic perfect of marrying a “lion” — a supposedly courageous and noble warrior — in search of an journey and contributing to the institution of an Islamic “caliphate” regulated by strict enforcement of Sharia regulation. The sense that becoming a member of the Islamic State empowers individuals to reside significant lives attracts most of the migrant ladies. One research means that in addition to problems with belonging and identification — and a skewed interpretation of Islam — it’s, within the case of younger ladies like Begum, on-line social networks that gave the impression to be the first venue and driving issue for radicalization. It seems that the overwhelming majority of overseas ladies who traveled to Syria and Iraq served IS primarily as considered one of a number of housewives or intercourse slaves.

It’s only by understanding the motivations and experiences of those that have gone to struggle overseas that governments can stop the recruitment of one other era of terrorists and terrorist sympathizers. The enemies of the Islamic State have ostensibly defeated the group within the Center East, but unknown numbers of surviving IS fighters have discovered the means to relocate to Afghanistan. Permutations of IS and different extremist teams are additionally energetic in lots of African international locations like Burkina Faso, Chad, Nigeria and  Somalia, amongst others. Apart from Afghanistan, different locations in South Asia aren’t immune.

Displaced Burden

The UK, US and another international locations have chosen to forestall the return of overseas fighters by revoking their citizenship. Though such actions could stop the return of overseas fighters within the brief time period, they don’t clear up the issue and may be unlawful underneath each nationwide and worldwide legal guidelines. In a number of situations, this can merely displace the burden and drive weakened states equivalent to Syria and Iraq to cope with the implications of radicalization. It might additionally instill additional grievances and act as a set off for radicalization into surviving Western-born radicals who could plot terrorist assaults towards Western targets.

In sure circumstances, citizenship revocation has led to issues over statelessness. Rendering a person stateless runs towards Western authorized rules and is opposite to the Common Declaration of Human Rights. In a number of authorized techniques, there’s a lack of enough proof to prosecute feminine returnees due to their home roles in Syria and Iraq. One other problem related to prosecutions of overseas fighters lies with demonstrating intent. This is applicable each to the intent of the actions dedicated whereas within the conflict zone and the intent of journey for aspiring overseas fighters. There’s additionally an argument that many such people, particularly the juveniles, have been victims of human trafficking.

A extra fruitful method can be to permit a panel of consultants to find out whether or not a person returning to the house nation is harmful or disillusioned. The prime instance of this method is Denmark, which has already carried out evaluation protocols that enable authorities to find out the person circumstances for every returnee. Based mostly on the outcomes of such screenings, Danish police, along with social companies, develop a plan of motion for every returnee. Collectively, they resolve whether or not a returnee is imprisoned, positioned in a rehabilitation program or is assigned a mix of each approaches. This can be very difficult to separate a sufferer from a perpetrator, and the boundaries might be notably murky for overseas fighters.

*[Gulf State Analytics is a accomplice group of Honest Observer.]

The views expressed on this article are the writer’s personal and don’t essentially mirror Honest Observer’s editorial coverage.

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