Bangladesh says 'non-citizen' Shamima Begum is UK's problem, won't let her in

Bangladesh says 'non-citizen' Shamima Begum is UK's problem, won't let her in
"There is no question of her being allowed to enter into Bangladesh," said the Bangladesh state minister of foreign affairs, in reference to Shamima Begum.
2 min read
20 February, 2019
Shamima Begum pictured before she left to Syria in 2015 [Getty Images]

There is no question of Shamima Begum being allowed into Bangladesh, the country's foreign minister has said, after the United Kingdom ordered to strip the teenager of her citizenship.

"The government of Bangladesh is deeply concerned that [Begum] has been erroneously identified as a holder of dual citizenship," Shahrial Alam, state minister of foreign affairs, said in a statement issued to The Guardian.

"Bangladesh asserts that Ms Shamima Begum is not a Bangladeshi citizen. She is a British citizen by birth and never applied for dual nationality with Bangladesh… There is no question of her being allowed to enter into Bangladesh".

Bangladesh learned from media reports of UK government plans to revoke the citizenship of the British teenager who left her home in London four years ago, when she was just 15 years old, to join the Islamic State group in Syria.

Begum described the decision as "kind of heart-breaking", when she was told the news by ITV News security editor Rohit Kachroo. 

A copy of the Home Office letter sent to Shamima Begum's mother informing her of the decision was obtained by broadcaster ITV. It showed the government department asking her to "ensure the Home Secretary's decision is brought to" Shamima Begum's attention.

Attorney Tasnime Akunjee tweeted on Tuesday that the family is "very disappointed with the Home Office's intention to have an order made depriving Shamima of her citizenship".

Begum, who gave birth to a baby boy in a refugee camp on Monday, has asked to return to the UK with her newborn child.

She said she did not regret joining the Islamic State group, with her fate highlighting the challenges faced by Western governments on how to deal with returning IS fighters.

The British authorities estimate around 900 Britons travelled to Syria and Iraq to join the conflict, of whom around 300-400 have since returned - and 40 have been prosecuted.

It is illegal under international law to render a person statelss by revoking their nationality. It is unclear how plans to revoke Begum's citizenship will be implemented. 

She escaped from Baghouz, the last IS stronghold in eastern Syria, two weeks ago. Her husband, a Dutch convert to Islam, surrendered to Syrian fighters as they left. Begum had two other children while in Syria, but both died.

Sajid Javid is vehemently opposed to IS members returning to the UK. "My message is clear - if you have supported terrorist organisations abroad I will not hesitate to prevent your return," he told The Times.

Agencies contributed to this report.