One of the three Bethnal Green schoolgirls who left London four years ago to join Isis in Syria has told a journalist that she wants to return home to have a baby, prompting mixed public reaction.
Shamima Begum, now 19, was interviewed by a reporter from the Times newspaper at a Syrian refugee camp, telling him that she is nine months pregnant and wants to return to the UK. She said: “In the end, I just could not endure anymore. Now all I want to do is come home to Britain.”
In 2015 Begum went with friends Amira Abase and Kadiza Sultan, all pupils at Bethnal Green Academy, to join Isis in Syria when she was just 15 years old.
During her time in Syria, she said two of her children had died due to poor health and living conditions. She is now heavily pregnant again. But she did not regret her original decision to become a jihadi bride.
From the government, there was a swift response. Home secretary Sajid Javed said if Begum tries to come home she could face prosecution.
He said: “My message is clear. If you have supported terrorist organisations abroad I will not hesitate to prevent your return. We must remember that those who left Britain to join Daesh were full of hate for our country.”
Her father however has urged forgiveness. Mohammad Udin told reporters: “They should all be allowed to come home. When they went to Syria they were not mature and they had been radicalised.
“They were not able to form their own opinions because they had been brainwashed. They went when they were very young and it’s not a big deal if they realise what they did is wrong.
“We should forgive them.”
Amira’s father Hussen Abase denied Begum presented a danger to British society, telling Sky News the girls’ ages at the time made them vulnerable to being “tricked” into travelling to Syria.
On Twitter there’s been a mixed reaction.
If people want to help Shamima Begun to return to the UK then I suggest someone sets up some #CrowdFunding for her – I am not defending her but she was legally a child when she left the UK & has already suffered the devastating loss of two children #ShamimaBegum
— WeAreTheDeeplyUnhelpful48% 🇪🇺 #PeoplesVote (@WeRThe48Percent) 14 February 2019
#shamimabegum has made her bed, now lie in it. There is no place in British society for extremist sympathisers, she wants to come ‘home’ because it has all fallen apart
— Adrian Fox (@AFNotts) 13 February 2019
Innocent until proven guilty. #ShamimaBegum sounds & likely is despicable. But she is a British citizen & must face trial under British law. You can't make exceptions for people, regardless of what they have done. That damages our entire system & one day, you may be at its mercy.
— Joe Plant (@Joseph_Plant) February 14, 2019