Leeds Imam slams Shamima Begum's 'dangerous' decision to join IS and calls for young to challenge extremism

Left: Qari Asim and right, Shamima Begum
Left: Qari Asim and right, Shamima Begum

Leeds Imam Qari Asimo has called for 'ideological resilience' in the wake of the row around schoolgirl Shamima Begum.

The 19-year-old from London fled to Syria aged 15 and said she wanted to return to the UK with her newborn baby.

Her British citizenship was revoked by Home Secretary Sajid Javid amid reports that she had Bangladeshi citizenship owing to her heritage.

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Leeds Imam Qari Asim, Chair of Mosques & Imams National Advisory Board, reacted to the ongoing controversy.

He said: “Shamima Begum made a dangerous and damaging decision to join Daesh’s now failing state; whilst the debate around the UK government’s decision to revoke her citizenship continues, there is no denying the severe consequences of her actions and the tragic implications for her or her child.

"Shamima’s story should serve as a deep reminder that the challenge of radicalisation remains and we must continue helping our young people to find the right path.

"Our religious and community leaders are already doing great work in this area, but we must build on this and carry on working alongside our communities to protect, and educate, them from such negative influences. There are services available for those who may have concerns about their children that can provide helpful guidance and support.

"It is also vital that we continue to work with the relevant authorities and safeguarding services to address this challenge. Together we can seek to build the ideological resilience in our young people to ensure they are no longer easily influenced by extremists.”

The Muslim Council of Britain has warned Mr Javid's move heightens fears of "a two-tiered citizenship scheme, sets a dangerous precedent and demonstrates an abdication of responsibility".

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While many would like to see Ms Begum not return to the UK, others have argued she should face prosecution for her actions, and attempts at deradicalisation.

The Begum family's lawyer Tasnime Akunjee said he would be considering whether she has been left stateless as he prepares an appeal.

He said she was born in the UK, has never had a Bangladeshi passport and is not a dual citizen, which was confirmed by the Bangladeshi minister.

Mr Alam added: "So, there is no question of her being allowed to enter into Bangladesh."

Ms Begum, one of three schoolgirls to leave Bethnal Green to join IS in 2015, has called the decision "a bit unjust on me and my son".

Asked about the situation on ITV's Peston, Mr Javid said: "I'm not going to talk about an individual, but I can be clear on the point that I would not take a decision and I believe none of my predecessors ever have taken a decision that at the point the decision is taken would leave that individual stateless."