LONDON (AFP) – The British government drew fresh criticism yesterday over its decision to revoke citizenship from a London teenager who joined the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria, after her baby died in a refugee camp.
Shamima Begum, 19, had asked to return home after giving birth to her son Jarrah last month in the camp in northeastern Syria, but London refused.
A spokesman for the United States (US)-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, Mustefa Bali, told AFP the baby had died, without giving further details. The BBC said he had pneumonia, citing a medical certificate.
Begum’s fate has sparked heated debate in Britain, which like many other countries is facing a dilemma over whether to allow extremists and IS sympathisers home to face prosecution, or stop them from returning at all.
Begum told them she wanted to return home to save her baby, saying that her two older children had died, apparently from illness and malnutrition.
“I don’t want to lose this baby as well and this is really not a place to raise children, this camp,” she told the BBC at the time.
Opposition Labour MP Diane Abbott said the death of the baby was “a stain on the conscience of this government”.
She accused Interior Minister Sajid Javid of revoking Begum’s citizenship “to appease the right-wing press”, adding that he had “failed this British child, and he has a lot to answer for”.