Kerre McIvor: Shamima Begum is an entitled, dangerous idiot

Author
Kerre McIvor,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Sunday, 24 February 2019, 9:29a.m.
19-year-old Shamima Begum who left East London in 2015 to join ISIS. (Photo / Sky News)
19-year-old Shamima Begum who left East London in 2015 to join ISIS. (Photo / Sky News)

You must surely have heard of Shamima Begum by now. She was one of three schoolgirls who ran away from Bethnal Green in London to join Isis and who now wants to return home, because her life, a life that she enjoyed when IS forces were in the ascendency, has turned to custard.

She was found by the Times journalist Anthony Loyd, who was in Syria to report on the last days of the fighting in Eastern Syria. The Islamic State fighters' stronghold is down to just a few hundred square metres and Loyd visited the Al Hol camp, hoping to discover the fate of a British hostage and the British citizens who'd joined Isis.

It was at Al Hol he discovered Begum, and he conducted an interview with her that provoked outrage around the world. She wanted to come home because her husband had been captured, two of her babies had died, she was in a refugee camp with other Isis widows, wives and children, and she really doesn't like it there.

Loyd spoke to her but has since given birth to a baby boy. It was her blase, unrepentant and entitled attitude that shocked so many people, and a subsequent interview she gave to the BBC's Middle Eastern correspondent Quentin Sommerville inflamed people further.

 When Sommerville asked her for her reaction to the Manchester Arena bombing, she shrugged and shook her head and muttered something under her breath. When he pressed her for an answer, she said it's one thing for soldiers to be killed because it's self-defence but it's wrong to kill women and children.

Good Shamima, going well, but then she stuffed up any chance at repatriation by going on to say, "just like the women and children are being killed in Syria right now with the bombings. It's a two way thing, really".

Around the world, people were furious. Equating the deaths of women who had chosen to join a fighting force that had declared war on Western democracy and all the values it stood for, to blowing up a stadium full of kids who'd come to an Ariana Grande concert didn't quite wash with most of us.

She then went on to play the pity card. "I feel a lot of people should have sympathy for me, for everything I've been through. You know, I didn't know what I was getting into when I left ... I was hoping that maybe for the sake of me and my child they let me come back."

Some people supported Begum's right to return to the UK, including our own Helen Clark, who said on Twitter that Begum had made a terrible mistake as a child and should be allowed to return home.

Clark added that Begum should, however, have to face the consequences of her actions.

Britain's Home Secretary Sajid Javid was taking a tough stance and was determined to revoke her citizenship; David Gauke, the secretary for justice, said Britain couldn't just make people stateless at the stroke of a pen. However, Javid seems to the won that battle – it was announced on Wednesday that as Begum has dual citizenship with Bangladesh, the UK doesn't have a legal obligation to take her back.

Interestingly, the journalist who found Begum thinks she should be allowed to return home. He says Begum's blase, whatever attitude was the typical defence mechanism of a London teenager, not a true reflection of her feelings.

He felt that all the British citizens who'd run away to join Isis should be repatriated from the refugee camps and go through the British legal system before being allowed to rejoin their communities.

He said Britain throws out foreign terrorists so why should it leave its own terrorists in Syria? He went on to say that leaving 30 thousand women and children in a camp would see further radicalisation and the spreading of that anger and disassociation with the Western world further afield.

He might have a point about that but as for Begum, I have absolutely no sympathy for her. She's an entitled, dangerous idiot with absolutely no respect for the country she left behind. You can see it in the interviews.

She just wants to get out of the camp and get back to a comfortable lifestyle. Radicals don't see compassion and empathy as goodness. They see it as weakness. And they have played on people's decency to get away with committing atrocities all around the world.

Andrew Dickens Afternoons

Andrew Dickens Afternoons

12p.m. - 4p.m.