Muslim leader urges Bangladesh to take in IS runaway Shamima Begum
Shamima Begum should be taken in by Bangladesh in an act of sympathy, a senior Muslim leader has said, as Sajid Javid faced a fresh backlash for stripping the Islamic State runaway’s UK citizenship.
The Home Secretary was under renewed scrutiny on Saturday after it emerged the teenager’s weeks-old son died in a Syrian refugee camp.
Ms Begum, who fled London to join the terror group aged 15, had earlier begged to return to the UK with her boy, but Mr Javid revoked her passport amid fierce public debate.
Stripping citizenship is only legal if the individual has a second one, and it was thought she may have a claim in Bangladesh because of her family background, but Bangladeshi officials denied this.
Caliph Mirza Masroor Ahmad, who represents tens of millions of Ahmadi Muslims worldwide, urged a Muslim country to “show sympathy to her” following Britain’s move.
“If the British Government has stripped her of her nationality then another country should adopt her, any Muslim country,” he told reporters at the Baitul Futuh Mosque, in Morden, south-west London, ahead of an annual peace conference.
“Since her parents were from Bangladesh, the first duty is of Bangladesh to take her as a national.”
It emerged on Friday that Ms Begum, now 19, had lost her third child.
A medical certificate showed he died of pneumonia a day earlier, the BBC reported.
Ms Begum had earlier discussed her fears that she could lose the boy, saying: “This is really not a place to raise children, this camp.”
Her family, who vowed to appeal against Mr Javid’s decision, had also written to the Conservative minister, pleading with him to allow a safe passage for the boy to come to the UK.
On Saturday, his Labour counterpart, Diane Abbott, said he had “behaved shamefully” over the “tragedy that might have been avoided”.
She added: “If the mother and baby had been brought home, the mother, Shamima Begum, would have faced British justice, but the baby might have lived.”
Conservative MP Phillip Lee told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that he was “deeply concerned” by Mr Javid’s decision, which was “driven by a sort of populism”.
Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Ed Davey said the boy will be remembered if courts rule Mr Javid acted “illegally in making a British citizen stateless”.
He added: “Many of us feared this tragic outcome when the Home Secretary washed his hands of Britain’s responsibility for a British citizen and a British baby.”
Kirsty McNeill, a director at Save The Children UK, urged Britain to “take responsibility for their citizens” in Syria.
“It is possible the death of this baby boy and others could have been avoided,” she added.
Debate raged over Ms Begum’s desire to return after she resurfaced in a refugee camp last month and said she wanted to return to Britain as the self-styled caliphate collapsed.
She had left Bethnal Green in east London with two other schoolgirls to join the IS terror group in February 2015.
Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis defended Mr Javid, telling Today: “There is no question that the duty of a Home Secretary in this country is to keep British people safe.”
A Government spokesman said: “The death of any child is tragic and deeply distressing for the family.
“The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has consistently advised against travel to Syria since April 2011.”