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Shamima Begum is a brainwashed child - and should be allowed to return

This opinion piece is over 2 years old

Robina Qureshi says Shamima Begum should be sent back to where she came from - the UK

It is an understatement to say that Shamima Begum has ruined her life.

Her words are ill thought out but that’s to be expected from someone who was brainwashed.

After four years, she has finally spoken. You can see why. There’s a day old baby lying in her arms that may die of malnourishment like his two siblings.

That baby, like its mother, is British and whatever the fever of public opinion against her, the girl has a legal human right to return to Britain. She doesn’t need to ask for it. She just needs someone to get her to the nearest British consul offices.

She is incriminating herself, and racists are using her ill thought out words to further demonise the entire Muslim community.

Robina Qureshi

In any other context, you’d call this a story of child sexual grooming and exploitation

Robina Qureshi

The best thing she could do now is shut up, instruct a lawyer through her family and quietly return to face the consequences.

In any other context, you’d call this a story of child sexual grooming and exploitation. At 15, she was groomed over the internet, radicalised and then travelled to Syria to be married off to a 27 year old stranger.

One of her fellow “jihadi brides”, Sabina Selimovic, tried to escape ISIL and was beaten to death with a hammer. Ms Begum has seen beheadings - planes flying overhead terrify her - she is used to starving and having an emergency backpack ready.

Yet there she is, sat with her one day old baby in a Syrian refugee camp, as one journalist after another comes in to get their tuppence worth from this traumatised child.

In her interviews with the Times and Sky News, the journalists showed professionalism in dealing with this heavily pregnant teenager who had seen two children die, as well as being traumatised from war.

However the BBC’s Quentin Somerville hit a new low as he decided to forego any pretence of impartial reporting - staring at her in open disgust as he barked questions, goading her to 'apologise' for the Manchester Arena bombings. You could see from the fear in her eyes, she didn’t want to lose a third baby to malnutrition and would say whatever was necessary. She faltered before saying she was sorry for the innocent women and children who were killed, she then gathering herself to point out that innocent women and children were also being killed in Syria. “I didn’t pay for those bullets...” she said.

Like Aqsa Mahmood, Shamima Begum was a prolific user of Twitter, in contact with known radicals and terrorists. Aqsa’s social media content was being monitored by the security services and Ms Begum sent her a message. So why did nobody intervene? Why not inform her family who knew nothing of what their daughter was up to? Did her parents want her to be brainwashed and radicalised? No, they never knew. If they did, be sure they would have physically prevented her going anywhere.

Perhaps instead of sneering at a brainwashed teenager trying to save the life of her new born baby Quentin Somerville should have stuck to his job as a journalist and asked these questions?

Have they forgotten Patty Hearst (the American heiress who was kidnapped by terrorists but then committed an armed robbery for them) or have they no awareness of the power of ISIL's fake news and propaganda on impressionable teenagers.

We pretend that the difference between truth and fiction is clear, while our own newspapers publish outright lies. Researchers have even shown that completely fake news stories helped brainwash people into voting for Trump and Brexit. Yet we are told not to accept that a 15 year old girl can be brainwashed by slick videos of a perfect ‘Islamic' life in Syria.

Shamima’s family remain heartbroken that she left. They accept she must face the consequences of her actions.

The Home Secretary said he would do everything to stop her returning. He could try to revoke her citizenship but he cannot make her stateless, it is against international law. How interesting that he has chosen to grandstand about her case - when around 400 other male ISIS returnees have been allowed to return. Why is this young woman singled out? The former Crown Prosecutor Nazir Afzal has suggested misogyny.

The UK government makes much of deporting foreign criminals back to where they came from. The right thing to do is to extradite Shamina Begum back to where she came from.

Many Syrians don't want her and if she has broken the law she must be investigated, prosecuted and go to jail.

Robina Qureshi is director of Positive Action in Housing.



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over 2 years ago
Let him without sin cast the first stone.
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I agree
over 2 years ago
Honestly this is the first piece of sane writing about this girl I have seen. She should be allowed back with her baby and face whatever charges are applicable, then be free to live her life the best she can.
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Lok Yue
over 2 years ago
I am most certainly not without sin but I have not been involved in torture and mass murder as IS has and neither do i condone or justify any of their actions. If anyone wishes to forgive IS or condone their actions or those involved with them, that is up to them but don't expect this country to welcome unregenerate IS members/supporters back into this country simply because IS is falling apart. Rats and sinking ships spring to mind
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Lok Yue
over 2 years ago
I am not a racist neither do i 'demonise'Islam. Islamic state however needs no external demonisation: they are a murderous, barbaric group and the sooner they cease to exist the better. I feel great sympathy for the families of those who died in the Manchester bombing but Begum apparently thought it justified and of course severed heads 'never fazed' her. she stole from her family to join this vile group (she was not kidnapped like Patty hearst) and we haven't heard her express regret yet. Should she return here, vast amounts will be spent on trial, imprisonment, surveillance and to what end? So she bring up her child, infused with hatred of the country in which she lives.
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about 1 month ago

This has been running for 2 years. It's now verging on propaganda.

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Biased Unbiased
over 2 years ago
This is such an incredibly biased report that it makes the revoking of the citizenship completely acceptable.
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Justice shall be served
over 2 years ago
Hoda Muthana from US is facing the same fate as Shamima Begum should. Dont allow them entry to your countries if you want peace to prevail. Trump has made the right choice. They left their nation and families by their own choice to serve terror. All nations need to have strict foreign policies when it comes to treason. ISIS are heartless cold-blooded murderers. These young privileged girls has a good live and future in big countries like US,UK. But they choose to serve Evil and create havoc. They deserve the future they created for themselves. Mercy is different from foolishness and should not disturb national safety.