Under the UK’s Counter-Terrorism Strategy, Shamima Begum Was Never Presumed Innocent

Over the past few days, 19-year-old Shamima Begum – one of the ‘Bethnal Green trio’ who left the UK to join the Islamic State (IS) in 2015 – has been very much in the media spotlight. Since the publication of her interview with The Times journalist Anthony Loyd last week, public debate has raged about whether or not Begum should be allowed to return to Britain.

On Tuesday home secretary Sajid Javid announced Begum’s British citizenship had been revoked – a decision that, as many have pointed out, contravenes international law. This choice to render her stateless not only shows how tenuous ‘belonging’ is for BAME British citizens, but is yet another example of how the government’s ‘Prevent’ agenda – the key counter-terrorism apparatus in the UK – is grounded in the preemptive denial of innocence and belonging.

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