Shamima Begum’s father says he ‘doesn’t have a problem’ with daughter's British citizenship being removed

Parent condemns lack of remorse as 19-year-old daughter says she regrets speaking to media 

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Sunday 24 February 2019 11:08
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Shamima Begum reads Home Office letter revoking her British citizenship

Shamima Begum’s father has said he does “not have a problem” with the government’s decision to remove her British citizenship, and condemned her lack of remorse for joining Isis.

Ahmed Ali, 60, said the 19-year-old was stuck in a Syrian detention camp because of her own actions, adding: “I am on the side of the government.

“I can’t say whether it is right or wrong, but if the law of the land says that it is correct to cancel her citizenship, then I agree.”

Speaking to the Mail on Sunday from his home in the Sunamganj region of Bangladesh, Mr Ali claimed his daughter was “normal” and did not appear religious before travelling to Syria with two friends in 2015.

“If she at least admitted she made a mistake then I would feel sorry for her and other people would feel sorry for her,” he added. “But she does not accept her wrong.”

He spoke as Ms Begum said she regretted speaking to the media and had only done it as a means of contacting her family.

Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph from the al-Hawl camp in Syria, Ms Begum said: “They are making an example of me. I regret speaking to the media. I wish I had stayed low and found a different way to contact my family. That’s why I spoke to the newspaper.”

Ms Begum was tracked down after fleeing Isis’s last pocket of territory, and pleaded to be repatriated to Britain while admitting she was not “fazed” by a severed head and calling the Manchester bombing justified.

Her family have written to the home secretary asking for his help to bring her newborn son to Britain.

The letter called the baby a “true innocent” who should not “lose the privilege of being raised in the safety of this country”.

Ms Begum’s sister, Renu Begum, asked how they could help the government “in bringing my nephew home to us”.

Relatives said they have had no contact with Ms Begum and had only learned she had given birth through media reports.

Shamima Begum's child could retain British citizenship, admits Sajid Javid

They made clear that they were “shocked and appalled” at the “vile comments” Ms Begum made to the media.

A lawyer representing Ms Begum’s family said they would appeal Sajid Javid’s decision to remove the teenager’s British citizenship, accusing the home secretary of making her “to all practical purposes stateless”.

Tasnime Akunjee told The Independent the teenager was born in London and had never visited Bangladesh or had a passport from the country.

The Bangladeshi government has denied Ms Begum is a dual national and said there was “no question of her being allowed to enter into Bangladesh”.

The government has presented citizenship deprivation as a public protection measure, but it was warned three years ago that the power may be an “ineffective and counterproductive weapon against terrorism”.

A 2016 report by the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation said it left extremists free to continue terrorist activities abroad, prevented monitoring and encouraged the “dangerous delusion that terrorism can be made into a foreign problem”.

Home Office statistics show the government has stripped more than 150 people of British citizenship for the “public good” since 2010.

The power was used only a handful of times a year, until deprivations rocketed from 14 people in 2016 to 104 in 2017.

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