Sajid Javid’s decision to strip Shamima Begum of her British citizenship leaves me deeply uneasy. I can understand why a Home Secretary charged with keeping the public safe would want to do whatever possible to keep this woman out of the country. But Begum was born in this country, grew up here and was educated here. This, surely, makes her British.
As a country, we should want to take charge of investigating her and, if the evidence is there, prosecuting her. After all, she offended against the ties that bind when she headed from this country—a liberal democracy with the rule of law—to go and serve in a so-called caliphate that offended against the values we hold most dear. It should be a matter of national honour that we want to ensure that justice is done, and seen to be done, in our courts for her actions. The prosecution of Begum, something that she accepts would probably happen if she returned, would be an affirmation of our law and our values.
In a way, saying that Begum is not British is too easy. It allows us to ignore the fact that this girl who went to a British school was radicalised in this way. As a country and a society, we need to think long and hard about how this happened. Stripping her of her citizenship allows us to avoid a difficult conversation that we need to have if we are not to have more young minds corrupted by Islamist extremism.