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Syriac priest supports Government's decision to strip Shamima Begum of UK citizenship

Wed 20 Feb 2019
By Eno Adeogun

The Government's decision to revoke Islamic State (IS) bride Shamima Begum's British citizenship has triggered a mixed response.

The Home Secretary revealed on Wednesday that the 19-year-old won't be allowed back to the UK after joining IS four years ago.

Fr Ishak Tuza, a priest at the Syriac Orthodox Church in the UK, shared his reaction to the government's decision with Premier.

 

Speaking during News Hour, he said her citizenship should "not be returned to her because when she went to the country she knew that there are punishments and laws and she broke the law".

He added: "She broke the law - she doesn't give any respect to the citizenship or her nation - England.

"When she left the country she knew the law - she is not a child."

The 19-year-old, who left the UK to travel to Syria aged 15, wants to return to the UK to protect her newborn son, who is four days old.

She said she was "a bit shocked" when she learned of the decision by Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

Speaking at a refugee camp in Syria, she said: "I don't know what to say. I am not that shocked but I am a bit shocked.

"It's a bit upsetting and frustrating. I feel like it's a bit unjust on me and my son.

"It's kind of heartbreaking to read. My family made it sound like it would be a lot easier for me to come back to the UK when I was speaking to them in Baghuz. It's kind of hard to swallow."

She also suggested she may now seek citizenship in the Netherlands, where her husband is from.

Meanwhile, Mr Javid suggested the action to prevent Ms Begum returning will have no impact on her baby son's nationality.

While insisting he could not discuss individual cases, he told the Commons: "Children should not suffer.

"So, if a parent does lose their British citizenship, it does not affect the rights of their child."

He also defended his decision and insisted politicians must be prepared to make tough decisions to keep the country safe.

 

Conservative and Labour MPs have criticised Mr Javid's decision.

Former Conservative home secretary Ken Clarke said that Ms Begum was "obviously British" and Mr Javid's stance could be "a great boost for jihadism".

Labour's shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said: "If the government is proposing to make Shamima Begum stateless it is not just a breach of international human rights law but is a failure to meet our security obligations to the international community. Potential citizenship rights elsewhere are entirely irrelevant.

Under Bangladesh law, a UK national who is born to a Bangladeshi parent is automatically a Bangladeshi citizen. Ms Begum is reportedly of Bangladeshi heritage so could have dual citizenship.

However, their Bangladeshi nationality and citizenship ceases to exist when they reach the age of 21, unless they actively make efforts to retain it.

Under the British Nationality Act of 1981, a citizen in Britain can have it revoked if they are deemed: "conducive to the public good".

Listen to Fr Ishak Tuza speaking with Premier's Cara Bentley:

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