One of the main objections to leaving Shamima Begum in the hands of the Syrian security forces is that she is a British citizen and deserves the full protections of the UK government. What few people are asking is how we’ve ended up with teenage jihadis being British citizens in the first place.
The simple answer is that she was born in London to presumably British passport holders. We don’t know much about Begum’s parents, but we do know this about Hussen Abase, the father of another teenager who ran away with Begum to join ISIS:
Mr Abase, who came to Britain as a refugee from Ethiopia in 1999, and now lives in Stepney, east London, where he works as a security guard, added: “I’m very happy the British government gave me refuge here. I hope they will let my daughter back in if she is still alive. It’s been very hard these past few years without her.”
But questions remain over Mr Abase’s own role in his daughter’s radicalisation.
After Amira disappeared it emerged he had attended a protest outside the Saudi embassy in London, in 2013, said to have been organised by the Islamic extremist group Al-Muhajiroun, founded by the extremist cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed.
Mr Abase also admitted having taken her to a demonstration outside the US Embassy, at the age of 12, at which an American flag was burnt.
Also at the rally were the jailed extremist preacher Anjem Choudary and Michael Adebowale, one of the killers of Fusilier Lee Rigby.
The truth is, the Home Office has for decades been allowing foreigners to settle in the UK who are either radical Islamists when they arrive or become radical Islamists later. This has been going on so long we now have a generation of straight-up, homegrown British citizens who are violent jihadists and we don’t know what to do with them. This isn’t surprising: the foundations of modern, liberal societies were built by people who could never have imagined future generations would run an experiment by which violent foreigners are gifted passports and encouraged to raise families who hate the society which hosts them. The reason western countries are now facing this uniquely difficult moral question is because they were uniquely stupid in allowing it to arise.
It’s tempting to blame Begum, her family, and those who encouraged her on this path to jihad, but what did the British government do to discourage her? The authorities bend over backwards to accommodate every whim of militant Islam, they brand anyone who asks simple questions a racist and threaten them with criminal charges, they encourage unfettered immigration while advertising there is no need to integrate while half the country is working overtime to destroy whatever is left of our society because they clearly detest it. As I’ve asked before:
If our leadership – and I use that term loosely – lacks the conviction to uphold the principles which supposedly define the West, why the hell should we expect Muslims to come out in support of them? I suspect for many, faced with a choice between leaning towards Islamic principles and Western principles, many moderate Muslims are choosing the former because they are unconvinced that the latter even exist. Hell, I’m not convinced they exist in any meaningful sense any more, so why should somebody who comes from a culture where they have been historically absent?
If you were a young Muslim living in Britain over the last few years, which way would you lean? Which way is the wind blowing? When you have elected officials condemning the publication of blasphemous cartoons, and newspaper columnists suggesting Charlie Hebdo was probably at fault, would you stick your head above the parapet and argue that insulting the Prophet is a fundamental right? When any atrocity is immediately followed by politicians mumbling vague approximations of supposed bedrock principles which they contradict in the very same sentence through use of the word “but”, and fall over themselves to assure you – a Muslim – that this is nothing to do with your own principles and faith, and then an utter headcase is invited for an interview on the state-owned TV channel where he defends the bloodshed and nobody says a peep: which way are you going to jump?
And let’s be honest: the British people voted overwhelmingly for this. The hand-wringing self-hatred may not have been invented by New Labour but it accelerated tenfold under Blair and was happily continued by Cameron. Both prime ministers delighted the middle classes, and if it weren’t for the Iraq War people would be weeping tears of sadness as they stood before twin statues of Blair and Mandela. Had a political candidate stepped forward and proposed taking a much tougher line with immigrants from certain countries and making it a lot harder for them to gain citizenship, the wails of anguish on the streets of British cities would have drowned out the calls to prayer in Whitechapel.
And it’s not like the lesson has been learned, has it? Even now, nobody dare propose any form of robust immigration control for fear of being branded racist. Even today, when we know the consequences, those who the country elects to high office go on TV and broadcast that unverified, undocumented refugees are welcome. Sorry aggregate British voters, but the likes of Shamima Begum are the direct result of your politics and your cowardice in the face of tough choices. If and when you finally decide to get serious, you’ll find the solutions were there all along.