“Shamima Begum is an unlovely creature: dim, cruel and self-pitying,” said Daniel Hannan in The Sunday Telegraph. “We should be sparing in our use of the word ‘evil’, but it is hard to think of how else to describe someone who, watching videos of Islamic State militants beheading civilians, felt a tug of attraction.” When, at the age of 15, she left Bethnal Green in London to join Isis in Syria, she would have known that the group raped and enslaved non-Muslim women and killed aid workers. She has shown little remorse: she told reporters that she wasn’t fazed by seeing severed heads, and tried to justify the Manchester Arena bombing. So, understandably enough, there was widespread anger last week when the Court of Appeal ruled that Begum must be allowed to return to the UK from Kurdish Syria, to challenge the Home Office decision last year to revoke her British citizenship. “There is something peculiarly ugly about the sight of someone who evidently loathes Britain none the less whining to be allowed back in.”
We should have seen the decision coming, said Richard Littlejohn in the Daily Mail. Judges in thrall to the human rights “racket” tend to bend over backwards “to put the interests of terror suspects ahead of the safety of the population”. Even if, “by some unlikely miracle”, she loses her case, the chances of her ever being kicked out are tiny. Honestly, said Anthony Loyd in The Times. Begum was 15, a legal minor, when she ran away. A teenage bride, she lost two children with Isis and another in a detention camp. I have interviewed her three times: she knows she made a terrible mistake, and she is no longer in thrall to Isis. Yet the Home Office has seen fit to strip her of citizenship and consign her to “a life of limbo”.
Even if you are appalled by Begum, it’s clear “that she is a British woman, a British problem”, said Janice Turner in The Times. She was born here, brought up here and radicalised here. It’s quite wrong to revoke such a person’s citizenship just because their parents were born in Bangladesh. Why should the Bangladeshis, or the Kurds, deal with her? Besides, as long as she remains in Syria, it feeds the “poor Shamima” narrative: she was groomed and exploited, and now Britain is letting her rot. Quite, said Ian Acheson on CapX. Bringing her back and putting her on trial on terror charges would serve to show “that our values are superior to the brutal summary justice of Islamic State”. Airing her “squalid, amoral and tragic experience” would be a propaganda victory. “Mercy is a weapon.”