20th July 2020   •   opinion
Why the Shamima Begum case leaves Britons of South Asian origin in a deeply vulnerable position

Image: BBC News
Fundamentally, Shamima Begum's case highlights that far too many in this country believe if you aren’t white and Christian then you aren’t "one of us" and should "go back to where you came from".

Such racial politics of citizenship should have no place in a democracy. But it exists.

Western governments should take responsibility and repatriate their citizens from Syria. Shamima Begum may very well be a security risk but she is a British citizen. Britain has legal and moral obligations towards her.

Citizenship is about rights and responsibilities and it is applicable to everyone. The fact the UK could not protect her by letting her slip away, could not show her a better future, could not convict her or deradicalise her is beyond shameful.

The former Home Secretary’s decision to strip Shamima Begum of her British nationality stemmed largely as a result of a public outcry that did not want to let the 19 year-old back in the country. “She’s no longer our problem” was the common running argument.

But it was simply dangerous and unjust for Shamima Begum and other UK citizens like her to be left as someone else’s problem.

This leaves UK citizens of South Asian extraction in a deeply vulnerable position. Many haven’t even been to their country of heritage or have any sense of association or belonging there. Why should they be rendered unBritish in certain circumstances when it should be the responsibility of the country of birth and belonging to deal with them?

It’s still a staggering realisation that she was made unBritish in the first place, whatever her crimes may or may not have been.

This two-tiered system of justice, which is medieval and fascist in its premise and devoid of principles, has to go. To use it in the name of security and by overriding principles is the argument of dictatorships.
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Sadia Humayun is a freelance journalist and writer
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