The idea that populist, racist outrage might lead to the citizenship of an individual being revoked undermines the very universal values we claim to promoteby Miqdaad Versi / February 22, 2019 / Leave a comment
In the last ten days, the country, and indeed the world’s media, has been transfixed by the plight of Shamima Begum, the deluded teenager who left to join the terrorist death cult in Syria and has ended up a broken mother.
Like other similar stories, Begum’s case has once again acted as a lightning rod for polarised opinion. Her actions, and whether she is sufficiently remorseful, have been as hotly debated as has her right to return back to the country where she was radicalized: the UK. The only thing that unites all commentators is the fact that her decision to go to Syria to join Daesh was wrong.
The recent decision to revoke Begum’s UK citizenship, however, appears to have been driven by an insidious populism that leaves minority communities of all hues wondering whether they can ever be regarded Britons with an equal stake in the country they were born in.
The law is not new and cannot be blamed on the current Home Secretary. It was the 2014 Immigration Act which embedded this discrimination and created a two-tier system where those—disproportionately ethnic minority communities—with certain foreign heritage have the risk of their passport removed in a way that is not relevant for white Brits with British heritage.
On the one hand, there is an increased security threat from terrorism, and some argue that necessitates greater powers for our government. But can it really be right that a girl born and bred in the UK, who happens to have Bangladeshi heritage, is treated differently to a girl who has white British parents and poses a similar security threat? Should ethnic background really be a factor?
And should such a devastating power that can ruin the life of an individual who is prima facie innocent, lie solely at the hands of the Secretary of State whose decision risks being arbitrary, inconsistent (why this power has not been used in Northern Ireland where every citizen has dual nationality and where 94 per cent of the UK’s terrorist attacks occurred in 2017) and driven by the news cycle (why the white American who travelled to join Daesh was described as “groomed” by the Telegraph but this brown Bangladeshi Muslim is perceived differently in the same paper)?
Is it right that there is no…