Shamima Begum: Isis bride's face used as target at Merseyside shooting range

Controversy comes as teenager’s lawyer reveals death threats 

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Wednesday 27 February 2019 13:31
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Shamima Begum: 'I would like them to re-evaluate my case with a bit more mercy'

A shooting range has sparked controversy by using Shamima Begum’s face as a target in what it called “lighthearted fun”.

A blown-up photo of the teenage Isis bride being printed off with a target on her face was posted on social media by the Ultimate Airsoft Range in Wallasey, in Merseyside.

It was captioned “hot off the press” and captions included “traitors”, “made your choice” and “no remorse”.

One visitor sent a photo of one used target to the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme showing it had been shot almost 100 times.

“The targets provide some fantastic reactions and conversations and allow people to have some lighthearted fun and bring out the inner child in us all,” a spokesperson for the range said. “The targets don’t always reflect personal opinions and we don’t want to condone terrorism.

The Ultimate Airsoft Range posted footage of the targets being printed on Twitter (Twitter/Victoria Derbyshire programme)

“But after watching the interview with Ms Begum being interviewed, there was a lack of empathy that she had shown and we decided to listen to our customers and use them as targets.”

The range also uses images of other high-profile figures as targets, including Donald Trump, Margaret Thatcher, Osama bin Laden and Justin Bieber.

A spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Britain said Ms Begum’s case risked “inciting violence”.

“In a society where hate and violence against Muslims, particularly Muslim women, is most prevalent and on the rise, it is deeply concerning that people requested an image of a real person as a shooting target, especially in the presence of young children,” a statement said.

There was a mixed reaction to the shooting range’s choice of Ms Begum on social media, where some people called the target “brilliant” but others branded it “appalling”.

One person suggested that living people should not be used as targets, while another said it was “dehumanising” to use Ms Begum and others for “light-hearted fun” rather than examining why young people make choices to embroil themselves in complex situations beyond their (or most people’s) understanding.

It came as Ms Begum’s family’s lawyer revealed that he has been targeted with a wave of death threats and abuse.

A letter was sent to Tasnime Akunjee’s solicitors’ firm threatening to kill him unless he stops representing her.

“If you get her back into this country you will be punished most severely, you will not be the first person we have killed or the last,” it said. “We know where you live so we will be coming for you unless you drop the Begum case.”

Mr Akunjee said he has reported the letter to police. Messages on social media included a post telling him to kill himself, one telling him to “f**k off to Syria”, and others wishing death on his family and telling him he “does not belong in Britain”.

Ms Begum remains in a detention camp in Syria with her baby son after home secretary Sajid Javid moved to strip her British citizenship and prevent her return to Britain.

The 19-year-old had appealed for help to come home but said she had no regrets, four years after leaving London with two school friends to join Isis.

Mr Akunjee said her family would launch a legal challenge against the citizenship removal and Bangladesh said she was not a dual national.

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