QT audience member says Shamima Begum is 'UK's problem'
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Shamima Begum’s right to be tried in the UK was fiercely defended by a member of the Question Time audience in Cardiff on Wednesday. Begum, who is now 23, lost her court appeal against the decision to remove her British citizenship this week.
The Question Time audience member asked, as someone whose parents came to the UK as part of the Windrush generation, whether he would be sent back to the Caribbean if he did something “wrong”.
“My parents obviously came over here, [on the] Windrush, from the Caribbean”, he said.
“I was born here, so does that mean, if I do something wrong now, even though I’ve never lived in the Caribbean, are you then going to send me back to the Caribbean?
He went on to condemn Begum for leaving Britain as a 15-year-old to join ISIS in Syria, but said she should face justice in the UK.
“I think most of us agree, what she done or allegedly done was totally wrong. But she was born in the UK, she was raised in the UK, she was educated in the UK and she was probably let down in the UK, because at the end of the day she was a child.
The man, dressed in a blue tartan tie and waistcoat, told the panel he used to work in children’s services and that legally a person under the age of 18 was always considered a child, whatever the circumstances.
“I worked in children’s services and a child is always a child, no excuses”, he said.
“Unfortunately she’s our problem, if you want to put it that way.”
Conservative MP David TC Davies backed the ruling denying Begum the right to have her citizenship returned to her.
He told the rest of the Question Time panel he was “more than happy to side with the security services” and the courts on their belief that Begum is a national security threat.
He took aim at “left-wing campaigning lawyers” for taking a stance at odds with security officials.
“It troubles me that people went out to Syria and committed atrocities, whether she did or not I don’t know.
“It troubles me that some people may try to come back and commit atrocities over here.
“What I’m pleased about is that the British Government is going to put the safety of the British people first”, he added.
Begum left Bethnal Green with two other schoolgirls in February 2015.
Her citizenship was revoked by then-home secretary Sajid David on national security grounds, after Begum was found nine months pregnant in a Syrian refugee camp.
Begum claims she was “recruited, transported, transferred, harboured and received” in Syria for the purposes of “sexual exploitation” and “marriage to an adult male”.
In 2020, Begum was given permission by the Court of Appeal to return to the UK and contest the government’s decision, but in 2021 the Supreme Court blocked the appeal arguing that she “would create significant national security risks” and expose the public to “an increased risk of terrorism”.
Speaking in November 2021, Begum said she did not hate the UK and described living under ISIS rule as “hell on Earth”.
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