Shamima Begum and British citizenship


A chara, – Shamima Begum is innocent of any crime. It is a fundamental principle of law in democratic societies that a person is innocent until proven guilty, and that guilt can only be decided by a court of law. It may not be decided by Facebook or Instagram, and certainly not based on partial and edited news reports and interviews. There are reasonable grounds to suspect that a crime may have been committed, but suspicion does not equal guilt.

Even if Ms Begum is guilty of a crime, the sentence for that crime is almost certainly not loss of citizenship and banishment, a punishment which has been imposed on this person without her even having been charged with an offence, much less tried and convicted. And in any event, if any punishment is to be imposed it is for a court alone to decide what that punishment will be.

The correct course of action would be for the British authorities to arrange for their citizen, (and her newborn baby), to be returned to the UK.

Once there the relevant authorities may conduct whatever inquiries they deem necessary, and if evidence of criminal activity is thereby revealed, charge the person as appropriate.

If she is convicted by a court then she should be sentenced as the court deems appropriate.

What we have instead is a baying for blood, virtual mob rule based on nothing more than snippets of interviews and edited news reports.

That this hysteria has manifested itself in social media comments is to be expected.

That it appears to have reached all the way to the British home secretary is truly worrying. – Yours, etc,




Co Mayo.

Sir, – Eugene Tannam (“Stripping Shamima Begum of British citizenship”, Letters, February 21st) wonders if the British parliament will exile itself over its arming of and support for Saudi Arabia, a country which performs acts of barbarity which equal those of Islamic State. Not if past behaviour is a guide to future actions

In 2007, an agreement was reached on co-operation between former British prime minister Tony Blair and Col Gadafy in the training of specialised Libyan military units, special forces and border security units.

Despite the killing of police constable Yvonne Fletcher outside the Libyan embassy in London in 1984 and the killings of 270 people in the Lockerbie bombing in Scotland in 1988, the British government approved for export to Libya military hardware which included projectile launchers, explosives, crowd control ammunition, small-arms ammunition, tear-gas and irritant ammunition, electric batons, sub-machine guns, assault rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles and explosives.

Britain’s professed “ethical dimension” to foreign policy in relation to the export of arms to suspect regimes did not appear to apply to Libya.

The British government prides itself on being one of the world’s leading champions of human rights and peace, but it is also one of the world’s leading suppliers of weapons of war. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6W.