Friday 26 February 2021

The Use and Abuse of Shamima Begum

1. Friday's court victory for the government is horrific. The Supreme Court's decision to reject her application to return to the UK to fight her case and upholding Sajid Javid's decision to strip her of UK citizenship sends a message to everyone born of migrant parents that they're here under sufferance. At any time their rights can be taken away at the flick of the Home Secretary's pen and be treated as if they're a foreign national of a country they didn't grow up in, do not know and, in all likelihood, wouldn't accept them either. Shamima Begum has been denied the right to a trial, the right to a defence, and a right for the chance at rehabilitation. And now the same shadow is cast over millions of Britons if the government of the day deems it politic to revoke their citizenship.

2. This is a reprieve for national security, so argue some dickheads. Apparently the very presence of this woman would lead to "increased risks of terrorism." There's the suggestion she's an unrepentent jihadist, that returning to Britain to stand trial would somehow embolden radical Islamists, and there's a good chance securing a conviction would be difficult thanks to the lack of evidence beyond hearsay. In other words, the UK state should wash its hands of a troublesome citizen and dump her on the Kurds because she presents too many unknowns. Talk about a lack the state has in its own legal system.

3. The politics of all this doesn't really have anything to do with the specifics of Shamima Begum. She was a useful foil who came along at the right time for the Tories to burnish their tough-on-terrorism credentials. That she was a schoolgirl effectively groomed by her recruiters doesn't matter: here we have a brown Muslim woman onto whom was poured every Islamophobic trope, every doubt about the "loyalty" of British Muslims, and every punitive cruelty the Tories and their base reserve for appropriate non-people. For Tory divide-and-rule to work, they need scapegoats. And scapegoats need their demon figures. Begum fit the bill.

4. Legal judgements are never just legal judgements. The law, especially the peculiarites of the English legal system, is class rule codified. And as the Supreme Court is an arm of the state, it is hyper conscious of this fact and how the government are minded to curb its powers following its ignorant waffling about "activist judges" - rhetoric imported directly from the United States. Having ruled against the government on prorogation and noting lower courts had recently ruled Matt Hancock's procurement practices unlawful, self-preservation dictated a certain interpretation of the law in Begum's case.

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David Lindsay said...

This is not about the details of Shamima Begum's case. She could do a lot less harm to us from a prison cell after a trial in Britain than she might be drawn into doing either in Syria or in Bangladesh. But the point is that the Supreme Court has ruled that the Home Secretary may revoke the British citizenship of anyone who was eligible for another nationality, whether or not they held it or wanted it. Almost the entire population of Northern Ireland. Everyone with a great-grandparent born on the island of Ireland. Most of the 50 per cent of children with an Afro-Caribbean parent who also had a white parent. Everyone who was Jewish under the Nuremberg Laws, and therefore under the Israeli Law of Return. And many more besides.

Dipper said...

@ David Lindsay

That's not what the Supreme Court have said is it? I thought they had said she does not need to return to make her appeal?