NO one in my circle of friends and family thinks Shamima Begum should be allowed back into Britain.
She made her bed and now, however uncomfortable it is, she must lie in it.
But you must know one thing. None of the widespread condemnation of her actions is a patch on the revulsion that comes from the British Muslim community itself.
It was bad enough she joined IS as a 15-year-old but what makes my blood boil is how she repeatedly claims her actions were something to do with Islam.
No, they really aren’t.
Her support for a murderous cult is nothing to do with the Islam that I recognise.
When asked about witnessing beheadings and executions she said she wasn’t bothered because she thought they were “Islamically OK”.
No, they are not.
This twisted, toxic interpretation of Islam is anathema to me — and it is certainly not something we grew up following as second-generation Muslims in this country.
We were taught from a young age that Muslims had to be compassionate towards everyone, whatever their faith.
I grew up in a mixed community in Bradford, where I still live.
Twisted interpretation of Islam
We always took presents to our Christian neighbours at Christmas and ate sweets with our Hindu neighbours at Diwali. We celebrated each other’s religious festivals and had friends from all different backgrounds. I always heard about how Islam meant peace and how the Prophet was well known for being kind, honest and gentle.
Now, thanks to the actions of Begum and her ilk, people sneer when they hear the phrase “Religion of peace”.
The truth is, that in the Koran there are strict rules about warfare. You are not even allowed to harm a tree, so targeting children at a pop concert is completely unthinkable.
Still, Begum talks about how “unjust” the decision to boot her out of the UK is and repeatedly asks for sympathy.
Sorry, but I reserve my sympathy for the rest of us in the Muslim community.
Every single time there is an incident around the world we hold our breath, hoping and praying it was not a misguided “Muslim” behind the attack.
Since 9/11 there has ALWAYS been a backlash, and it is ordinary, law-abiding Muslims who bear the brunt.
According to one anti-racism charity there were more than 1,200 attacks on Muslims last year — a rise of 26 per cent — and women are disproportionately targeted.
Women who wear the headscarf say they live in fear. They have been verbally abused, a few have even had their hijabs ripped off their heads — and Begum’s interviews will pour petrol on that fire.
High-profile Muslim celebrities such as boxer Amir Khan posted on Twitter that “arrogant” Shamima is giving all Muslims a bad name. It is hard to disagree.
The far right will gleefully tar us all with the same brush, using the actions of ONE individual to paint the WHOLE community as traitors.
Cool place to live
Despite this, we know that Britain is not as racist as other countries in Europe.
When I went to Paris I was told repeatedly that life for immigrants in France is very difficult. Spain and Italy are among other EU nations that continue to show naked hostility and xenophobia towards Muslims, both in the street and among their politicians. Sure, when our parents came here in the 1950s and 1960s they also had to endure difficulties, but a lot has changed since then.
Areas such as Bethnal Green, where Begum comes from, is not a ghetto hotbed of radicalism.
Muslim men, women and children live harmoniously next to bearded hipsters sucking on their soy lattes, and it is this cosmopolitanism that makes it such a cool place to live.
British people are, at heart, compassionate and kind. And if Begum had shown genuine remorse, repentance or humility I am certain the voices crying out for her forgiveness and safe return would have been heard.
There are still people arguing for her to be given another chance here, saying she was very young when she fled the UK and that she must have been groomed.
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But she didn’t go to Syria to work for a charity or help on humanitarian grounds. She went for the specific reason of becoming an IS bride, and supporting terror.
It is ironic that the person who stripped Shamima Begum of her citizenship is, like her, the child of immigrants.
Whatever the legal ramifications of her citizenship, for the Muslim community the damage has been done — and sadly THAT can’t be as easily revoked as her passport.
- Anila Baig is a Muslim writer.
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