Shamima Begum is not an obviously sympathetic character, but it is difficult remain unmoved in the face of this morning’s news that the nineteen year-old’s third child has died in a Syrian refugee camp.
If this had happened in her native London – and it is her native city – we would be speechless in disbelief followed by demands for actions and answers at the highest level. And, let’s face it, if she had been white, we wouldn’t be so ready to withdraw her citizenship or insist that she wasn’t really “one of us”.
Because of the focus on the individual, the press is giving us no wider picture of the extent of human suffering in these camps. How many other babies are being born, how many babies and children are living there and how many are sick and dying?
This should be the real front page news- not the ramblings of a bolshie, immature teenager.
Yes – Shamima needs to come to terms with the reality of her situation and accept her share of responsibility, but the giant’s share lies with Islamic State for creating the situation in the first place and continuing on the path of devastation and human misery.
On a personal level, Shamima’s husband also needs to accept his share of responsibility for her continued pregnancies in the face of the reality of life and death in the camps.
So what should democratic governments do about citizens who have joined Isis and then decided that it’s not the lifestyle choice that they thought it was?
It has to depend on individual circumstances. Shamima is, on the face of it, a bolshie, immature and not very attractive teenager but she’s also a British citizen (or will be when the courts have finished hanging the Home Secretary out to dry) and has, by all accounts, a loving family who just as horrified as the rest of us and who are prepared to take her back. If her husband wants to return, then he must go to the Netherlands and face the consequences of his own actions.
Being a wife and a mother is a job for an adult – so is being Home Secretary. Time for everyone to stop posing for the media, kowtowing to the Twitterati and just grow up.