Shamima Begum: the Girl Behind the Meme

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Our Music Editor Henna Amin gives us her opinion and an overview of the Shamima Begum case that has caused so much controversy.

 

There’s no doubt that over the last few weeks all of us have come across a news story or meme about Shamima Begum, best known as the ISIS bride who wants to return to Britain. The controversial case surrounding her has since been sensationalised by the media, become a viral meme on social media and provoked somewhat of a public debate.

Begum left Britain with two other schoolgirls when she was 15 years old after being brainwashed by the terrorist group ISIS. She spent the next 4 years as a housewife in Syria, but lost both of her two children to sickness whilst there. Her reason for wanting to return to the UK is for the safety of her new-born son.

Following Home Secretary Sajid Javid’s decision to revoke her British citizenship (despite Bangladesh’s announcement to reject her for eligibility) a debate has been sparked about the morality of the situation, along with human rights violations. Amongst all of the headlines, interviews with Begum and outcries on social media, the question still remains whether the teenager should be allowed to return to her home country.

Attention has been drawn to the racialised nature of the situation, especially since Jack Letts, aka Jihadi Jack, a white Brit who joined ISIS and actually has dual citizenship in Canada, has not had his citizenship revoked despite committing the same offence. The Home Secretary’s decision has been labelled a ploy to win over public opinion, by making an example out of Begum. And while the troubling nature of the 19-year-old’s interview is a clear issue, along with the severity of her decisions and actions, it has been questioned if it isenough to deny her entry to the country she was born in.If, as a country, we are willing to rehabilitate mass murderers and career criminals, where is the same attitude for a teenager who was groomed and manipulated by an extremist organisation?

Shamima has been labelled everything from a “terrorist” and “evil”, yet much less “vulnerable” or a “victim”. The ignorance of the context of her situation has been highlighted, including the issues of child marriage, grooming and manipulation that are all crucial factors when examining her “crimes”. What we mustn’t forget is the fact that Shamima Begum was targeted andbrainwashed when she was a child to join the terrorist group IS. And while it doesn’t excuse her actions, it does undeniably add a dimension to the situation that should affect how the case proceeds.

Above all, Shamima Begum is a human being – and deserves to be treated as such.

 

Featured image by: Omeiza Haruna

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