I read that Islamic State babe Shamima Begum does not understand “why my case is any different to others.” She asks if it is because she was on the news? There are even politicians and human rights officials who have decried the failure to listen to Begum’s pleas. Kenneth (Ken) Clarke, senior UK Conservative parliamentarian and former Home Secretary, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Justice Secretary (and the list goes on) warned that “depriving her and other Britons who joined IS, of their nationality threatened to give a ‘great boost for jihadism’.”
The thing that I find truly disgusting is that Mr Clarke warns us “leaving extremists to languish in Syria would make them more radicalised before they dispersed around the world and returned to their country.” But the obvious questions that no-one is asking but we should all be asking are:
- Why are they permitted to disperse?
- If they are extremists then what constitutes further radicalisation?
A lecture I attended at the House of Commons, in London (“Radicalising our Children”) came up with one of the issues. There exists no legal definition of extremism and radicalisation. This is part of a much larger debate around justice and human rights, particularly where judicial intervention creates an obvious conflict between the two. Both terms are laden with enormous political, ethical and cultural controversy.
Political prejudice and lack of moral consistency arising from this prejudice has stymied debate around what may be the defining issue of the 21st Century. How do we survive the knowledge revolution when so much of it is a lie and when the result of this is to amplify intolerance across the Globe?
A significant part of the blame lies with the media. There is a failure to debate what Shamima Begum believes and, consequently, what her ‘rights’ should be. For instance, we do not make comparisons between radical fascist ideologies of the first half of the twentieth century and Islamic State ideology, perhaps, because we prefer not to be contentious? It would also appear that we are too often indulgent of radical attitudes or, for the sake of multicultural diversity, too willing to accept, even to embrace, culturally divergent behaviour that is both oppressive and hateful. Even when that behaviour is (or should be) anathema to our values, as individuals and as a ‘progressive’ Western society!
So, now we have the appeasers, both in and out of parliament telling us that if we do not concede to the demands of ethnic cleansers, genocidal racists and potential or actual mass-murderers that it may cause us ‘problems’ at home, even, to encourage those who identify with them, to create violence in Britain (and of course, elsewhere throughout the world).
So, what can we do about this?
Convene an international conference on terrorism. Provide it with the authority to set guidelines on what to do with terrorism’s perpetrators. International statutes must be revised to enunciate the contemporary dilemma nations face when confronting people for whom the right to kill their enemies is sacrosanct; a holy writ. What constitutes citizenship and what defines refugee status must reflect our interaction with those people and groups for whom terrorism is simply a tool to be employed by non-state actors in support of an asymmetric conflict. Citizenship is not a right. It is a privilege.
Should a supporter of terrorism be granted rights, equal to their victims? In our modern society an unwritten contract is supposed to exist between society and the individual (or the group). The society protects the individual and in return, we all give up certain freedoms. Our modern society is based on that contract.
If a supporter of terrorism is labelled as such and is then defined as a stateless person it becomes the responsibility of the state they have adopted, to deal with them. If they ‘identify’ culturally and ideologically (theologically) then keeping them within the geographical confines of their adopted homeland should not be an issue for us as a society.
In the case of Shamima Begum, why should she enjoy the rights of British Citizenship?
The logic of her Islamist philosophy is that we have no rights and only obligations. Our survival is conditioned on our ‘good’ (i.e. ‘Islamic’) behaviour. We owe her our survival. A condition for our continued safety and security is that we must follow ‘Islamic’ guidelines in our everyday lives and crucially, that includes the decisions that our government makes at every level of society. Shamima openly admits that we (Western, Non-Muslim, and followers of democratic principles of government and society) do not behave as she demands we behave.
This last point is a really important point because people have very short memories. The 7/7 London atrocities carried out by four Muslim suicide bombers in 2005, murdered 52 people and wounded 770 others. A survey conducted amongst UK Muslims soon after the events revealed that 40% of UK Muslims thought ‘we deserved what we got’ because we failed to follow UK Muslim guidelines on British foreign policy. To be realistic, there is no difference between foreign and domestic behaviour in terms of Islamic expectations of British (Western) subservience to Muslim theological principles and therefore, both, our actions and our demeanour. But it makes for good press to focus on foreign policy as an actionable behaviour that is easily altered to pacify the extremist.
Once infected by radical ideology (whether of a secular or a religious nature), deradicalization is almost unprecedented, and that, is historically measured fact. Follow up of post-WW2 denazification subjects proved only that former Nazis made convincing liars rather than reformed sociopaths. If keeping Shamima Begum locked up and in solitary confinement for the remainder of her life is not an option, then returning her to the UK where she may one day spread the poison of her beliefs into the wider community must also be unacceptable.
Shamima Begum should remain in the country she fought hard to change irrespective of whether the Islamic State she fought to create exists today as a physical location or only within her twisted mind. With the greatest of disrespect to our experts in human rights, our safety and our security trumps any rights Shamima Begum may have once enjoyed as a citizen of the United Kingdom, that same UK she has emphatically rejected.
Asymmetrical warfare is the threat to global stability in the 21st Century and therefore our greatest challenge. It is long overdue for international law to catch up with 21st Century terrorism and the protection of our rights as targets of that terrorism.