Sajid Javid criticised after death of Shamima Begum’s baby

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Sajid Javid’s decision to strip Islamic State runaway Shamima Begum of her British citizenship has come under renewed criticism after her baby died in a refugee camp in Syria.

The Home Secretary revoked the teenager’s passport after she said she wished to return to the UK with her newborn son, having already lost two children.

On Friday, it was confirmed the weeks-old boy died in a camp in northern Syria, with reports suggesting he had suffered from breathing difficulties.

Mr Javid faced fresh criticism on Saturday over his move, which came amid fierce debate over the future of Ms Begum, who fled London to join the terror group when she was 15.

His Labour counterpart, Diane Abbott, said he had “behaved shamefully” over the “tragedy that might have been avoided”.

She added: “If the mother and baby had been brought home, the mother, Shamima Begum, would have faced British justice, but the baby might have lived.”

Conservative MP Phillip Lee said he was “deeply concerned” by Mr Javid’s decision, which was “driven by a sort of populism”.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Clearly Shamima Begum holds abhorrent views and to want to join Islamic State is beyond all comprehension, but she was a child, a product of our society.”

Shamima Begum
Shamima Begum, whose baby son has died (PA)

He added: “Many of us feared this tragic outcome when the Home Secretary washed his hands of Britain’s responsibility for a British citizen and a British baby.”

Kirsty McNeill, a director at Save the Children UK, urged Britain to “take responsibility for their citizens” in Syria.

“It is possible the death of this baby boy and others could have been avoided,” she added.

Sajid Javid
Home Secretary Sajid Javid previously stripped Begum of British citizenship (PA)

Aged 19 and heavily pregnant, she resurfaced in a refugee camp last month and said she wanted to return to Britain as the self-styled caliphate collapsed.

Her family announced the boy’s birth on February 17 and said they believed he was “in good health”.

Ms Begum discussed her fears that she could lose her third child, saying: “This is really not a place to raise children, this camp.”

On Friday the family’s lawyer and the Syrian Democratic Forces confirmed the infant had died.

The BBC reported a medical certificate showed he died of pneumonia a day earlier.

The Begum family, who vowed to appeal against Mr Javid’s decision, had also written to the Conservative minister, pleading with him to allow a safe passage for the boy to come to the UK.

But Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis defended the minister, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “There is no question that the duty of a home secretary in this country is to keep British people safe.”

Meanwhile on Saturday, the BBC published an interview with Ms Begum’s father Ahmed Ali, in which he apologised “to the British people”.

Speaking from his home in Bangladesh, he said: “I am sorry for Shamima’s doing. I request to the British people, please forgive her.”

A Government spokesman said: “The death of any child is tragic and deeply distressing for the family.

“The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has consistently advised against travel to Syria since April 2011.”

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