Britain’s treatment of Shamima Begum is a “disgraceful indictment of our national conscience”, Olympic sculptor Sir Anish Kapoor has said.
Ms Begum was 15 years old when she and two other east London schoolgirls travelled to Syria to join Islamic State in 2015.
Last month, the UK’s Supreme Court ruled that she cannot return to the UK to pursue an appeal against the removal of her British citizenship.
In a statement co-authored by Ms Begum’s family’s lawyer, Sir Anish said: “Let us for one moment imagine that four young white school girls from Wiltshire were enticed to go to Syria and join IS.
“Would they be seen as terrorists or victims of terrorists?
“We have no doubt that we would be demanding that no expense be spared and not a moment wasted in having them returned to the safety of their homes in England.”
Her British citizenship was revoked shortly after she was found in a Syrian refugee camp in February 2019, and she was nine months’ pregnant at the time.
She later revealed that she had married Dutch convert Yago Riedijk – 10 days after arriving in IS territory.
In 2019, she told The Times that her children, a one-year-old girl and a three-month-old boy, has both since died. Her third child died in the al Roj camp shortly after he was born.
Sir Anish said “the fact that Shamima wants to come back to the UK shows that she is willing to face the law here for her past mistakes”.
He added: “Shamima is a British citizen, and it is her right to be tried in the British courts by a jury of her peers for any offence she may have committed.”
The artist’s remarks came as The Daily Telegraph published exclusive pictures of Ms Begum, now 21, inside the al Roj camp.
Whereas she had previously been pictured in a niqab, the images showed Ms Begum with straightened hair – wearing sunglasses, a T-shirt and a hoodie.
According to the newspaper, she agreed to be photographed but declined to be interviewed owing to legal advice.
Speaking to Sky News on the Press Preview, Gal-Dem politics editor Moya Lothian-McLean said stripping Ms Begum of her British citizenship set “a dangerous precedent” – and said the newly emerged pictures “show her desperation”.
The journalist added: “We cannot let the sentiment of a heinous crime get in the way of a legal right to citizenship.”
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