Monday 25 March 2019

Isil child bride is a British citizen and entitled to return home, says Corbyn

Concerned: British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, right, says Begum should face questioning. Photo: AP
Concerned: British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, right, says Begum should face questioning. Photo: AP
Hoping to return: Shamima Begum was stripped of her British citizenship. Photo: PA

Sam Blewett

UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has criticised the decision to strip Shamima Begum of her British citizenship and said she should be permitted to return to the UK to face questioning.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid made the move after the teenager, who fled London aged 15 to join Isil's self-proclaimed caliphate in Syria, said she wanted to return to the UK with her newborn son.

The Labour leader criticised Mr Javid's action as "very extreme" after diplomatic tensions broke out, with Bangladesh denying the 19-year-old had citizenship in the nation she has never visited.

Mr Corbyn told ITV News: "She obviously has, in my view, a right to return to Britain.

"On that return she must obviously face a lot of questions about everything she has done and at that point any action may or may not be taken.

"But I think the idea of stripping somebody of their citizenship when they were born in Britain is a very extreme manoeuvre indeed.

"Indeed, I questioned the right of the home secretary to have these powers when the original law was brought in by Theresa May when she was home secretary."

Meanwhile, the Begum family's lawyer Tasnime Akunjee called for Mr Javid to explain what steps could be taken to deliver her days-old son to the UK from the Syrian refugee camp where they are staying without documentation.

"Given Sajid Javid has confirmed the child is British we want to know what practical steps can be taken in these circumstances," the lawyer said.

Ms Begum's parents would be happy to take the boy, he said, but it is not yet known whether she would allow him to travel without her.

Mr Javid has defended his move and insisted he would not leave an individual stateless - which is illegal under international law - after Bangladesh denied she had citizenship there.

A statement from the nation's foreign affairs minister Shahriar Alam also said there is "no question" Ms Begum, who is of Bangladeshi heritage, could enter the country.

Mr Javid's move came amid heated debate over whether the teenager should be able to return to the UK after she was found in a Syrian refugee camp with the terror group's reign nearly over.

The Muslim Council of Britain has warned Mr Javid's move heightens fears of "a two-tiered citizenship scheme, sets a dangerous precedent and demonstrates an abdication of responsibility".

Irish Independent

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