12:49, July 19 170 0 theguardian.com

2020-07-19 12:49:04
Shamima Begum and the UK government’s lack of compassion

This government’s levels of cruelty are still rising inexorably. The latest evidence is its decision to appeal against the court of appeal’s judgment that Shamima Begum must be allowed to present her case against the removal of British citizenship in person (Shamima Begum: Home Office to fight court rule letting Isis recruit return to UK, 16 July).

Of course what she originally did in joining Isis was wholly wrong, but she was a schoolgirl of 15 when she absconded, and statements she made supporting Isis were made with an Isis official standing over her. Under duress she was made to marry an Isis gunman with whom she had three children, all of whom died. What an appalling five years for a young woman.

Has the government no compassion for Shamima Begum? Which of us is mature and competent enough to make lifetime decisions at the age of 15? She should be allowed to return and make her case in person.

Michael Meadowcroft


Two points inform my own opinion that the UK cannot and should not shirk its responsibilities in this tragic case. First, Shamima Begum left the country aged 15 on her sister’s passport. UK Border Control failed to detect this and thus failed to protect a minor. Second, Ms Begum can only be deprived of her citizenship if she has an alternative statehood available. In her case, that option is – at the very least – questionable.

Dr David Miller

Lymington, Hampshire

Shamima Begum was born in this country before being groomed as a British child to accept abuse, trauma and death as normal. Why do we then abuse her further instead of accepting that our society did not keep her safe? Whether we deplore her actions is not the point. She is one of our children and needs our help as well as punishment for any crimes she has committed.

Our government’s response has been shameful, but sadly consistent with the callous attitude towards abused children and those who end up in the care of the state, of whom too many end up in the penal system or destitute.

Carola Salvadori


Shamima Begum must be given a fair chance to present her case, and the court will make a decision after determining its merits. Whether or not a precedent will be set is irrelevant (Shamima Begum ruling reignites debate over Britons who joined Isis, 16 July).

Rebecca Durant

Winterton-on-Sea, Norfolk

The stance of the government over Shamima Begum is profoundly lacking in human understanding or compassion. She may well be a victim, but let’s not call it grooming. Perhaps it is a case of a girl waking to awareness and, like many young people, searching to engage with a complex world through religion or social causes. Ms Begum could be seen as a young person with a disrespect for authority. Now, at the age of 21, she has accumulated a vast amount of experience that may well have provided her with deep personal insight into complex issues central to contemporary life.

This experience might dissolve into personal anger and bitterness or, with encouragement, provide the insight and vision that will be sorely needed by the next generation. A mature response to the actions of young people such as Shamima Begum would be inclusive, creating a path back to integration through social support and education.

John Adams

Redhill, North Somerset

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