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