Updated February 23rd, 2024 at 16:37 IST

Shamima Begum Who Left UK to Join ISIS Loses Appeal Against Removal of British Citizenship

Shamima Begum who left the United Kingdom as a schoolgirl to join the Islamic State lost an appeal against the decision that revoked her British citizenship.

Reported by: Bhagyasree Sengupta
Shamima Begum loses her appeal | Image:X
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London – Shamima Begum who left the United Kingdom as a schoolgirl to join the Islamic State lost an appeal against the decision that revoked her British citizenship. Begum's lawyers appealed in UK court to overturn the decision that took away her citizenship. On Friday, all three judges ruled against the appeal, giving a major blow to Shamima's case. Shamima travelled to Syria in 2015 when she was just 15 years old. Her citizenship was revoked in 2019, shortly after she was found at a Syrian refugee camp. However, this is not the first time the 24-year-old failed to gain British citizenship. 

Last year, Shamima lost a challenge against the decision at the special immigration appeals commission, The Guardian reported. Dame Sue Carr, the head of the court of appeal noted that the court only determined whether the decision was unlawful or not and insisted that the court came to the decision unanimously. “It could be argued that the decision in Miss Begum’s case was harsh. It could also be argued that Miss Begum is the author of her own misfortune. But it is not for this court to agree or disagree with either point of view," Carr averred. “Our only task is to assess whether the deprivation decision was unlawful. We have concluded it was not and the appeal is dismissed," she added. 

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Why was she stripped of her British Citizenship?

Shamima was born in England to parents of Bangladeshi heritage. After she left her home in 2015 to join ISIS, she arrived in Syria and married Dutch national, Yago Riedijk. When the terrorist group was defeated by a coalition that involved the US and the UK, hundreds of women and children including Shamima were detained in Syrian refugee camps. The young woman was eventually found in the al-Hawl refugee camp in north-east Syria in 2019 by a journalist for the British news outlet Times. Amid major media outrage, the then-home secretary, Sajid Javid, used his powers and revoked her citizenship. He told the British parliament at that time that those who travelled to IS “all supported a terrorist organisation and in doing so they have shown they hate our country and the values we stand for”.

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It is important to note that the United Kingdom does not allow deprivation of citizenship, if a person will ultimately end up being stateless. However, at that time Javid reasoned that since her parents were of Bangladeshi heritage, she could apply for citizenship in that country. However, Shamima emphasised that Shamima never visited Bangladesh and the Asian nation's foreign minister at that time said that she “would face the death penalty” if she tried to enter the country. Since then, Shamima has remained in a Kurdish-administered refugee camp in north-east Syria while her lawyers have fought a series of court battles since the revocation of citizenship.

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Published February 23rd, 2024 at 16:07 IST