THE decision to strip Daesh supporter Shamima Begum of her British citizenship rather than bring her back to the UK to face possible criminal proceedings sets “a very dangerous precedent” for Muslims and people of colour living in Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Muslim and Asian women Scotland told the Sunday National that the decision made by Home Secretary Sajid Javid to revoke the citizenship of Begum ­– who fled Bethnal Green aged 15 to marry an Daesh fighter in Syria – without following due process sent a worrying message.

READ MORE: Home Office strip Shamima Begum of British citizenship

Begum, now 19 and living in a Syrian refugee camp, revealed in a newspaper interview earlier this month that she wished to the return to the UK and claimed she willing to change. She faced a public backlash, with some claiming she failed to show remorse. Others suggested she could be traumatised.

Javid argued Begum had Bangladeshi citizenship due to her parent’s heritage and revoked her UK status. Bangladeshi authorities deny this is the case, making the now 19-year-old from London stateless – a move which is against international law. Her family are appealing the decision on this basis.

The National:

However, since 2014 UK law has also allowed those who have been born elsewhere and naturalised to have their citizenship revoked, creating what some have described as a “three-tier” justice system that discriminates against black and ethnic minority (BAME) citizens.

On Friday Mayor of London Sadiq Khan claimed the decision “risks creating a second class of citizenship”. Writing in a blog published by the Anti-Racist Educator, a newly formed group of teachers concerned about systemic racism in Scottish schools, one Scottish teacher of South Asian heritage revealed she had heard colleagues comparing the “ISIS girl” to pupils, mostly from a Muslim background, in the school.

READ MORE: The Home Secretary should not play judge and jury over Shamima Begum case

The teacher wrote that she feared the “dehumanising” of Begum by refusing her a fair trial would feed into racist narratives.

A spokeswoman for the group, who met through a Scottish Association for Minority Ethnic Educators (SAMEE) programme, said: “The decision of revoking Shamima Begum’s citizenship sets a very dangerous precedent for Muslims and all people of colour.

‘‘It denies her human rights and her right to get a fair trial – in turn this could be applied to future cases of young vulnerable British Muslim citizens. Instead of seeing them as victims being manipulated and groomed, they are seen as criminals.”

She claimed that the teachers said Prevent – the controversial anti-terrorist programme that is part of the UK Government’s Contest strategy – has alienated Muslim pupils.

READ MORE: Human rights are for all humans ­— with no picking and choosing

“We can understand why such pupils could feel isolated, constantly at odds in their own country and become vulnerable,” she adds. “Instead of protecting them, Prevent has done more to criminalise them. Shamima’s story will feed into the internalised and unconscious beliefs that Muslim women – particularly those wearing hijab – are uniquely ‘other’.”

Smina Akhtar, the former director of Scottish Muslim women’s organisation AMINA who is now researching racism within state institutions as part of her Glasgow University PhD, said she had not been surprised by the Home Secretary’s decision given the increased anti-terrorism legislation started by Labour and continued by the Tories.

But she said she was concerned at the jumps made in the rhetoric made before Begum has faced trial, with the public assuming much of what she might be guilty of without any real knowledge.

“She should be interviewed – and supported – by the appropriate authorities,” she said. “She was 15 and essentially groomed over the internet. There should be transparency on the process here.”

The National:

She fears that the arbitrary nature of such decisions could be used in other situations, which could be applied in a discriminatory way.

“I remember being told by my parents [born in India before Partition] in the 80s and 90s: ‘We don’t belong here. You have to be careful’ and I remember telling them: ‘I was born here’.

‘‘But something like this gets you thinking. There is a lot of talk about British values, but what are they? British values are largely defined by the government of the day.”

THERE is not just a push back on those who may have committed, or supported, violent acts, she points out, but also against peaceful protest against the state. “Look at the Stanstead 15,” she says. “Anybody involved in critical or radical politics, that doesn’t support Tory values, could be challenged.”

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Amal de Chickera, the London-based co-director of the Institute of Statelessness and Inclusion, said that the decision to revoke citizenship was a growing global trend. Figures suggest that 104 British citizens had their citizenship revoked in 2017, a jump from 14 the previous year.

“We can clearly see the way reform of the law in this area has strengthened the powers of the state to do so,” he said.

“This is reflected in citizenship stripping. There is a very definite ratcheting up going on here both in the UK and globally.

“This is a really interesting because there is no evidence that it acts as a deterrent or that it combats terrorism. To the contrary there are those who believe it potentially plays into the hands of terrorist groups.

“If someone is left stateless than they have nowhere to go. Terrorist groups can say look how these Western countries treat their own citizens and it can be part of their further radicalisation. It can be counterproductive.”

READ MORE: Point of no return: Breaking down the crisis of IS returnees

Revoking citizenship was a “symbolic gesture” to appease the public, he claimed. “A lot of this is posturing and it’s very dangerous. We have a British criminal system, so why circumvent it in this way?

‘‘The moment we do that we undermine the system at large. We create a pocket where it is easier to abuse power.

“In effect our law says we have ways of dealing with terrorists who are mono-nationality terrorists. So if that’s the case, why treat others differently? It fits within a wider pattern of anti-migrant sentiment. Some citizens are more equal than others.”

Sayed Alwadaei, head of advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, fled Bahrain after playing a key role in Arab Spring protests in 2011, which show him imprisoned and tortured, both physically and psychologically.

In the UK he was granted asylum but in 2017 he discovered by clicking a link on a news story that he was one of 72 individuals stripped of his Bahraini citizenship.

He applied for British citizenship, as he was entitled to do after living in the UK as a refugee for five years, but the Home Office claims his “complicated” case has caused delays.

As a result, he is currently stateless, as is his three-month-old baby daughter, who would otherwise have inherited Bahraini citizenship through her father. “It was an incredible shock,” Alwadaei says. “It was the country that I was born in, where I had spent most of my life.”

He believes he has been treated unjustly by the Home Office, whose delays that mean his child has been denied UK citizenship – unless his is granted, she will not be able to apply on her own until she is five-years-old.

Though he has refugee status, making his situation different, those living without citizenship can become destitute in their own country, he points out, unable to access either passport or ID card and the rights that go along with them.

He is shocked to see the UK increasing the use of this sanction. “Bahrain is a country well known for its serial abuse of human rights,” he says.

“But it is extremely concerning to see the UK following this trend. There should be a due process followed. If a person is stateless this is a clear violation under international law.”

Figures suggest that as many of about 800 so-called foreign terrorist fighters who went to join Daesh and other Syrian splinter group in recent years are now returning, with just one in ten prosecuted.

Yesterday it was claimed that Jack Letts, 23 – known as Jihadi Jack – who travelled to Syria in 2014 and is now being held in a Kurdish prison, also wishes to the return.

Though Daesh has lost its strongholds, Alex Younger, head of Britain’s MI6 intelligence agency, has warned of a resurgence of al Qaeda in Syria’s ungoverned areas and said Daesh remains a threat.

Many commentators have argued this strengthens the argument to return Begum, rather than leave her in the region.

Erika Brady, of St Andrew’s University’s Handa Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence, said that Begum could help provide further intelligence on the role of foreign women supporting Daesh.

“The story of the three Bethnal Green schoolgirls who travelled to the Caliphate back in 2015 was a real wake-up call to the broader public that this was an issue,” she said.

“The idea that girls and women would join such a brutal regime was beyond the comprehension of many in domestic societies. This is not to say that some sort of victimisation took place.

“As to what the girls and women do while they are over there – this remains unclear.

‘‘It seems that the vast majority marry Daesh fighters and that their role is more supportive.”

Yesterday Javid continued to defend his decision claiming that those who returned might radicalise others, claiming he had to “weigh-up the danger and the risk to the country of that too”.