Shamima Begum: well-groomed or self-appointed?

Today’s edition of The Guardian contains an opinion piece in support of allowing one of the teenage jihadi-brides from London – Shamima Begum – to ‘come home’.  Hmm.  That’s the ‘home’ that was specifically rejected by these girls as they chose to leave it to go and live in that social utopia and outstanding beacon of human rights, ISIS.

I have a problem with this notion of ‘being radicalised’.  Our western society uses this concept to explain to itself how and why some young people (it’s usually young people) seem to make truly bizarre and non-understandable decisions for themselves.  For several years now, the notion of ‘being radicalised’ has been put forward as the explanation for engaging in terrorist activities, the support of terrorist activities and the promotion of terrorist activities by some young people.  In other words, ‘being radicalised’ is something that is done to a young person.  Now we see the notion of ‘being groomed’ also being rolled out in defence of the indefensible.

As the media reports at the time showed, none of the three London jihadi brides-to-be was exactly at the bottom of the educational heap.  These girls were intelligent, from good families and were doing well at school by all accounts.  Yet they still chose to walk away from all of these benefits and make their own way back to the Middle Ages in Syria.  By choice.

Let’s think about this for a moment.  Had they made choices at the time to acquire a termination of a pregnancy, or to join a radical feminist organisation, or to refuse an arranged marriage, would we have been asked to believe that they had ‘been groomed’ or ‘been radicalised’ in order to arrive at those choices?  No?  Why not?

Yet because they chose to decamp from a comfy life in the evil West, we are suddenly to cast aspersions on their choices as ‘independent young women’ and accept that they must have been brainwashed into that choice.  Uh-huh.

‘But they were only 15 or 16 at the time!’

Right.  But we are now regularly told in the media – by many teens and those in hope of their votes – that 16 year olds are responsible enough to have the vote in the UK.  How does that fit?

What about all the other equally well-educated, intelligent girls from good families that were exposed to the same information as the three would-be brides from and about ISIS and its followers?  Why didn’t they also jump on a plane to Syria?  Because those girls – young women – had a moral compass with the strength to see ISIS and its warped worldview for what it was – deranged, evil, unjustifiable, cruel, inhumane and just plain wrong.  Not everyone makes stupid, life-changing decisions when they are 15 or 16.  They use their brains instead.

Understandably, there is much comment in the media and on social media saying that Shamima Begum and others like her should not be allowed to return to the UK.  At the time of their departure in 2015, the official line was that the girls were ‘victims’ and would be welcomed home rather than being treated as terrorists. Is this still the case?  Should it be?

Shamima Begum, in her interview with The Times journalist Anthony Loyd, states numerous times that she does not regret her actions in going to join ISIS.  She describes being unfazed at the sight of severed heads.  She refers to bombing as a form of normality.

‘If she seems untroubled by the violence she has witnessed, that’s no more a sign of a callous and wicked villain than a vulnerable young woman who is profoundly scarred. We know that trauma in childhood impacts your experiences as you grow older. I can’t begin to imagine what she has seen in her life, what it’s like to have had two children die.’  So says the Michael Segalov in The Guardian. 

Really?  So now we employ the child-abuse narrative to explain and excuse this young woman’s behaviour, do we?  How about the abuse of her own children (two dead, one still in utero) by getting pregnant in the middle of  terrorist organisation without proper medical care? By choice.

Are we now to liken the ‘plight’ of thousands of Western jihadi brides to that of the thousands of vulnerable girls who were actually groomed by gangs of marauding males in Rotherham, Oldham and so on?  Grooming is well-recognised in child welfare, as it should be.  But to use this concept to excuse the consequences of the decisions taken by intelligent young women who voluntarily left their homes to marry terrorists, is to demean the traumas suffered by the victims of Rotherham, Oldham and all the other northern towns where such grooming has yet to come out of the woodwork.

And while we’re on the subject, what about the argument of the ‘unborn child’ as one of the pressing reasons we’re supposed to welcome Ms Begum and her ‘sisters’ back into the bosom of the infidel West?  It’s always encouraging to see pieces in The Guardian defending the unborn, isn’t it?  What about the unborn who are ‘terminated’ daily in our glorious NHS?  Anybody advocating for their protection?  Or does the ‘fetus’ of a jihadi bride count for more?  Just a thought.

“I’m not the same silly little 15-year-old schoolgirl who ran away from Bethnal Green four years ago,” Ms Begum told the gullible Anthony Loyd.

Ah, right.  That’s ok then. Come home, dear, all is forgiven….

But wait – as usual –  there’s more:

“And I don’t regret coming here.”

Uh-huh.  I suspect Ms Begum is likely to find she’s at home already.


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