Outcry after Shamima Begum’s baby dies in Syria

Outcast: Over a third of the world’s stateless people are children.

The UK has been accused of abandoning the teenager’s newborn son, who died on Thursday. Now, it has emerged that two more British ISIS brides have been stripped of their citizenship.

Shamima Begum, the teenager who fled the UK to join Islamic State (ISIS), gave birth to a boy named Jarrah in a Syrian refugee camp three weeks ago. On Thursday, her baby died.

Now, Home Secretary Sajid Javid has been branded a “moral coward” for his decision to strip Begum of her British citizenship. His critics say the baby was a UK citizen who deserved protection.

Reports have since emerged that two more British ISIS brides, with five young sons between them, have had their citizenship taken away.

But what is citizenship and why is it so important?

In ancient Rome, the law stated that citizens were “free to act by law, free to ask and expect the law’s protection”. Being a citizen means you are entitled to rights and protection in society.

Javid stripped Begum of her British citizenship under the British Nationality Act 1981, which allows the UK to remove someone’s nationality if it is “conducive to the public good”.

Someone is stateless when they have no nationality. Stateless individuals are often unable to access healthcare, education and work.

The ban on making people stateless emerged as a result of the Nuremberg Laws, when hundreds of thousands of German Jews were stripped of their nationality overnight in 1935.

Now, Begum finds herself effectively stateless. According to former lawyer Lord Macdonald, Javid’s decision threatens to create “a more dangerous world where stateless individuals roam with no allegiance”.

Law of the land

Was it right to revoke Begum’s citizenship? The UK government seems to be making it a policy to strip terrorists of their nationality.

Citizenship is supposed to be a universal right. Is it important that we always stick to our principles? Or is it better to consider things on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the tricky realities?

You Decide

  1. Was the government right to strip Begum of her citizenship?


  1. What makes a good citizen? Write down three qualities.

Some People Say...

“Citizenship consists in the service of the country.”

Jawaharlal Nehru

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Shamima Begum left the UK when she was 15 to join the Islamic State terror group in Syria. She is married to a Dutch ISIS fighter, who she has had three children with. All of her children have died.
What do we not know?
What will happen to Shamima Begum. She remains in a refugee camp in Syria, while her husband is currently being held in a Kurdish detention centre after being captured.

Word Watch

The boy, named Jarrah, died of pneumonia. He was less than three weeks old. She also had two older children, a boy and a girl, who died during her years in ISIS.
ISIS brides
Zara and Reema Iqbal are sisters from Canning Town in east London. They are now aged 28 and 30.
Helps; makes something possible.
Nuremberg Laws
A set of anti-Semitic laws passed by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime in the years preceding the Holocaust. Many countries were hesitant or opposed to taking Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis.

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