Almost exactly 4 years ago (give, or take a couple of days), a 16-year-old girl from East London decided to leave her English life behind and move to Syria. She did not go alone. Two of her friends decided to go with her, following in the footsteps of another friend of theirs, who had already made the move.
She pretended to go to school and then to the library, but when she never came home that day, her mother was faced with an almost empty closet of her daughter’s and no note. When the airport cameras revealed that the girls got on a plane to Turkey on their own volition, the family could not believe it. After landing in Turkey, the three teenagers took a bus to Syria to become a part of the jihadi, girl-power subculture.
While men who travel to those regions usually become fighters, women take the more stereotypical roles of caretakers, mothers and cheerleaders. (Of course, that is not always the case, because we have all heard about female suicide bombers.) The Institute for Strategic Dialogue, which is “a London-based ‘think and do tank’ that has pioneered policy and operational responses to the rising challenges of violent extremism and inter-communal conflict“, and security officials believe the females to be more dangerous than the males. They are not as likely to die, but are more likely to lose a spouse, which could lead them to come back to the country of origin filled with bitterness. That, in turn, could lead to indoctrination and recruitment of new extremists.
All three girls have married soon after arriving in Syria. They had access to social media, through which they could communicate with their families back in the UK. Even though they reported things they had missed, they did not want to come back. Family members of one of the girl reported not being sure whom they were corresponding with, because of everything sounding so different. So unlike their daughter/ sister/ cousin. They were not sure whether she changed that drastically, or whether there was someone next to her telling her what to type.
Now, all of a sudden, one of the girls decided that she wanted to come back “home” to the UK with her baby.
As you may know, the Islamic State has lost control over the territories they wreaked havoc in for the past few years. The ship is surely sinking, and the remaining survivors want to make a run for it. Could that have something to do with that girl’s change of heart?
Shamima’s husband surrendered to the opposition forces. Two of her earlier children died of malnutrition and the lack of appropriate medical care. How terrible, right? “When I saw my first severed head in a bin it didn’t faze me at all, […] It was from a captured fighter seized on the battlefield, an enemy of Islam. I thought only of what he would have done to a Muslim woman if he had the chance.” Those are her words. Now. Not 4 years ago after she escaped and did not know better, but now, when she wants to flee and return to the Western civilization.
Back in the year of 2015, the Police gave the girls a free pass, if only they decided to return, since they have not committed any crimes. However, at this point in time, it is not such an easy decision to make. Especially if you listen to what the girl in question has to say (see quote above). In her own words, she argues that she would like to come back with her kid, because both of them will not survive where she is now. However, also in her own words, she does not regret leaving her family behind and joining ISIS.
I do not understand that girl.
There is another, American, girl in the same camp as Shamima, who wants to return to the US with her child, but she says she regrets joining ISIS, etc. Now, I am not saying I believe her, but I certainly feel uneasy about letting in someone with no remorse (like Shamima). It is true that I do not live in the UK, so I should not care, but I do. For the greater good. I fear that innocent English people will suffer because of her if she gets to come back.
Do I understand her desperation and need for survival? Most definitely.
Do I feel bad for the kid? Of course.
Do I think she should be allowed in? Not at all.
Unfortunately, some people have to learn the hard way. Decisions have consequences. What example are we setting to others if we just allow fans of extremism to live among us?
The Parable of the Prodigal Son comes to mind. One son worked hard, was reasonable and stayed by his father’s side, while the other son took his part of the money and went out into the world to party. In the end, the latter one came back, and the father welcomed him with open arms and even threw a party for him. He had never thrown one for the “good” son, making him bitter.
What is the difference? Remorse. That girl does not have any. She just wants to save herself. Not after her first baby died. Not after the second baby died. But now, when she lost everything.
Also, the Prodigal Son did not hurt anyone else but his family. Who knows what this girl will do? How will she bring up her child?
Do you think she and her kid should be let back into the UK? Why?/ Why not?
If you live in England, how do you think her return could potentially affect you?
If you live in England, what does the public think about all this?
Which technique (and why) is more effective in teaching people a lesson – showing them mercy, or having them deal with the consequences to their actions?
Were your parents easy, or tough on you?
If you are a parent – how do you raise your kids?
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