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Shamima Begum: What does her case say about UK citizenship?

By Megue Bondoki Mar 10, 2023
Shamima Begum on 'Good Morning Britain' TV showShamima remains barred from returning to the UK. Credit: ITV/Shutterstock

The rejection of Shamima Begum’s appeal to keep her British citizenship sets a dangerous example for the children of immigrants in the UK.

In 2015, Shamima Begum, a schoolgirl from east London, left for Syria to become a Jihadi bride for the Islamic State group.

However, in 2019 she wanted to return to the UK, but her citizenship was revoked due to security concerns.

An appeal against the decision was rejected on February 22.

Begum’s parents are from Bangladesh, but she has no ties to the country.  She was born in the UK and grew up in the UK until she left for Syria.

The UK tried to send her to Bangladesh through her parent’s nationality, but it was rejected because she is not a Bangladesh citizen.

Begum has been left stateless despite it being against international law for a nation to make one of its citizens stateless.

This raises concerns about immigration in the UK. What does it really mean to be a British citizen? Is British citizenship contingent on behaviour?

It was contended by some that she should retain her citizenship and face trial for any offences committed within the UK, on the grounds that she is British, and she should be accountable to the state.

But others believe that national security must be given priority, that she poses a threat and the decision to strip her of her citizenship is appropriate.

Begum’s ruling sends a message that there are arbitrary degrees of British citizenship for the children of immigrants born in the UK.

If her parents were not from Bangladesh or were second-generation British citizens, would she still have been made stateless?

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