Politicians and rights activists on Saturday blasted Home Secretary Sajid Javid for his “inhumane” and “populist” decision to revoke citizenship of Shamima Begum because she had joined Daesh in 2015 when she was 15.
The decision, which left Begum effectively stateless, came days after she gave birth to a child in a camp in northeastern Syria. She had begged the government to allow her return to the UK so she can raise her only remaining child after two of her other children died due to malnutrition and sever conditions in the war zone in Syria.
However, British media reported late on Friday that Jarrah, Begum’s baby son, had also died of pneumonia a day earlier.
The death has sparked widespread criticism on Javid, a senior Conservative Party politician who many believe is desperately seeking to become the next leader of the party. Javid, a British-Pakistani, had resisted arranging for Begum’s child to be returned to Britain, saying the situation in the Syria camp was too dangerous.
The opposition Labour Party, which had initially described revoking Begum’s citizenship as extreme, said the death of Jarrah showed Javid had lacked any human emotion when dealing with the case.
“It is against international law to make someone stateless, and now an innocent child has died as a result of a British woman being stripped of her citizenship. This is callous and inhumane,” wrote a Saturday tweet by Diana Abbot, Labour’s shadow home secretary.
The reactions come as Begum’s child was legally a British citizen because she had been born before Sajid’s decision about her mother was taken.
Conservative MP and former justice minister Phillip Lee also said that the tragic death of Jarrah should force the government to “reflect” on its policies.
Lee said Javid’s last month decision to revoke Begum’s citizenship seemed “driven by populism and not by any principle I recognize”.