Shamima Begum was trafficked by a Canadian Spy

Shamima Begum has lost her appeal against the Tories’ removal of her British citizenship. The cruel decision by the British state, backed by its courts on Wednesday, intends to make an example of Begum. 

Begum, who was born in Britain, left east London in 2015 with two school friends to join Isis in Syria. Now 23-years-old, she is stranded in a camp in northern Syria with no legal rights or protection.

The Special Immigration Appeals Commission ruled on Wednesday that Tory ministers’ 2019 decision to strip her of citizenship on national security grounds was lawful. 

But her lawyers argued the decision didn’t consider whether she had been a child victim of trafficking and grooming. They said that her fight was “nowhere near over” and the decision would be challenged.

Mr Justice Jay said, “The commission concluded that there was a credible suspicion that Ms Begum had been trafficked to Syria. The motive for bringing her to Syria was sexual exploitation to which, as a child, she could not give a valid consent.

“The commission also concluded that there were arguable breaches of duty on the part of various state bodies in permitting Ms Begum to leave the country as she did and eventually cross the border from Turkey into Syria.”

There is strong evidence that Begum’s journey into Syria was organised by a Canadian spy. There are also suggestions that the London Metropolitan police have known about Canadian spooks’ role for years, but conspired with Britain’s fellow Nato member to cover it up. 

But Justice Jay said that this did not revoke the home secretary’s legal duty to make a national security decision and strip Begum of British nationality. And despite questions over how her case had been handled, the home secretary had still acted within his powers—even if there could have been a different outcome.

In 2019 Tory home secretary Sajid Javid stripped Begum of her nationality on the grounds of “national security”. And in March 2021 the Supreme Court ruled that Begum couldn’t return to Britain to fight for her citizenship to be reinstated. 

The judge said “reasonable people” will differ over whether her travel to Syria was voluntary, or whether she posed a threat in February 2019. But that the decision was one for the home secretary, and this was “insufficient” to deem it unlawful.

Begum’s lawyers Gareth Pierce and Daniel Furner said the leaves Begum “in unlawful, arbitrary and indefinite detention without trial in a Syrian camp”.

The Home Office said it was “pleased” with the outcome. Javid said, “Ministers must have the power to prevent anyone entering our country who is assessed to pose a threat to it”.

It is illegal to revoke a nationality if it would leave a person stateless. The justification for revoking Begum’s citizenship is that she is eligible for Bangladeshi citizenship—the birth country of her parents.

But Shahriar Alam, Bangladesh’s minister of foreign affairs, said “there is no question” of Begum being allowed to enter Bangladesh. 

The Tories have strengthened their powers to strip citizenship. The Nationality and Borders Act, passed last year, means the state can remove citizenship without notice.

Between 2010 and 2018 the Home Office says an average of 19 people per year were stripped where “conductive for the public good” and 17 due to fraud. In reality the website Free Movement says more than 460 people were stripped of citizenship between 2006-2020.

The Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion says Britain in recent years has stripped more citizenships than any other country in the world, minus Bahrain.

The decision is an example of the British state’s racism and Islamophobia. And it creates a “worthy” and “not worthy” tier for British citizenship, and arbitrary rules on who is allowed in and out. 

Being an “acceptable” Muslim means refusing to criticise the British state’s hypocrisy, racism and imperialist foreign policy. The decision is yet another element of the British state’s rampant Islamophobia and racism from the Prevent scheme to deportations. 

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