UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has said that Shamima Begum, the teenager who left London to join ISIS in Syria, should be allowed back into the country and called the government’s decision to strip her of her British citizenship “a very extreme maneuver.”
“She obviously has, in my view, a right to return to Britain,” opposition leader Corbyn, who is currently in Brussels meeting with EU officials, told CNN affiliate ITV on Thursday. “On that return she must obviously face a lot of questions about everything she’s done. And at that point any action may or may not be taken.”
Begum, 19, who gave birth to her son over the weekend in a Syrian refugee camp, implored the British government to bring her home in a series of interviews. But on Wednesday, the UK Home Office informed her parents that it planned on taking away the teenager’s British citizenship to prevent her from returning home.
“She was born in Britain, she has that right to remain in Britain, and obviously she has a lot of questions to answer,” Corbyn said on Thursday.
The move by Home Office Secretary Sajid Javid to remove Begum’s citizenship has sparked a debate about the legality behind it.
A spokesman for the Home Office told CNN that the Home Secretary can deprive someone of their British citizenship “where it would not render the individual stateless.”
Begum’s family is of Bangladeshi origin, according to former chief superintendent for the Metropolitan Police, Dal Bab, who has been in contact with the family.
However the Bangladesh foreign ministry said in a statement that Begum is not a Bangladeshi citizen, nor has she ever visited the country.
“The Government of Bangladesh is deeply concerned that she has been erroneously identified as a holder of dual citizenship shared with Bangladesh alongside her birthplace, the United Kingdom,” the statement said.
“She is a British citizen by birth and has never applied for dual nationality with Bangladesh … There is no question of her being allowed to enter into Bangladesh.”
Javid told Parliament on Wednesday that children of jihadists who lose their citizenship could still be British, which could mean Begum’s newborn son could be entitled to British citizenship.
Begum was 15 when she flew out of London’s Gatwick Airport with two classmates and traveled to Syria. The young women, all from the Bethnal Green Academy in east London, planned to join another classmate who had traveled to Syria months earlier.