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Opinion Feb 28, 2019 11:17 AM EST

Those who joined ISIS have shown where their loyalties lie. So why should they keep citizenship?

Watching the debates over the last year and a half, one could gather that we are in a quandary trying to determine what to do with those who act on their enthusiasm for jihad.

Those who joined ISIS have shown where their loyalties lie. So why should they keep citizenship?
Shane Miller Montreal, QC

This article was published more than 1 year ago, information might not be up to date.

Watching the debates over the last year and a half, one could gather that we are in a quandary trying to determine what to do with those who act on their enthusiasm for jihad.

A question that one might try to answer concerns the application of disciplinary measures against these folks upon their return.

That is if they should be allowed to return at all.

Differences in the application of these measures might depend on age or whether the offender is a natural-born citizen or a newly absorbed immigrant who couldn’t fend off the urge to return to the environment in which their perspective on ‘holy war’ is commonplace.

Given the enormity of their infraction, there should be a moral consistency in how we look at these cases. With an independent conscience, all of them have made their decision--- an unforgivable one at that. And should be treated accordingly.

For someone who is actually fond of his country, and personally knows immigrants who are ecstatic about finally obtaining Canadian citizenship---and eagerly embracing all that comes with it--- it’s outrageous that there’s even an ongoing debate about whether those who’ve joined the jihadists should be able to come back.

Let alone retain their citizenship to the country they’ve already rejected.

It’s rather odious of them to request that we allow them to live in our midst. To this we should respond emphatically with: Absolutely not.

To use a common political phrase, they have “voted with their feet,” thereby indicating to us that their loyalties lie with forces who wish to see our countries and way of life destroyed. Why else would they align themselves with one of the most barbarous antagonists the West has ever faced, rather than contribute to the nourishment of our civil societies?

Such things are often conveniently glossed over by politicians whose foresight doesn’t go far beyond an election cycle. And when challenged by those with a more reasonable temperament, they refuse to grapple with the issues honestly.

With plenty of pompous virtue signaling and a lack of common sense, Justin Trudeau loudly berated Stephen Harper during the 2015 debate on foreign policy. Outraged by Harper’s policy of revoking the citizenship of terrorists, Trudeau denounced it with another one of his favourite slogans: “ A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.” He then went on to say that Harper was “devaluing the citizenship of every Canadian” and “the rule of law,” as well as making citizenship “conditional.” Well, what about a terrorist’s vile breaching of the law? This was once classified as treason.

It has become obvious that logic has largely been absent from our security policy. Of the approximately 100 Canadians who’ve left to fight for ISIS, around 60 have returned, and we’ve lacked a coherent plan to deal with them. There has been a failure to properly enforce federal law when these unrepentant terrorists return and there are scarce reasons to think the ISIS brides will be handled with any assertiveness.

The problem of native-bred jihadists has been more severe in Britain than it is in most other Western countries. In 2014, when ISIS was at its peak and the world was becoming inured to seeing beheadings and executions, Newsweek reported that there were “twice as many British Muslims fighting for Islamic State” than the British Armed Forces.

This is symptomatic of the problem of failed integration, which happens because of an individual’s refusal to assimilate, and the impotent response to this defiance.

This has historically plagued Britain and the West, and we are now seeing the repercussions of this weakness. In his incisive article, “Londonistan Calling,” Christopher Hitchens described how a quiet neighbourhood in North London became a “breeding ground” for the British jihadist.

In the neighbourhood was a mosque that was run by the radical cleric, Abu Hamza, who indoctrinated and provided refuge to many young congregants---a group that included well-known terrorists.

As Hitchens pointed out, this was only a small representation of the phenomena that pervaded neighbourhoods across the country.

One source of the problem is the prevalence of subversive Islamists who galvanize the younger population and encourage them to be loyal to the laws of Muhammad instead of the laws and institutions of the nation they inhabit. Anjem Choudary, an influential Islamic activist, is infamous for saying he “doesn’t believe in British law,” and promoting support for ISIS.

In spite of all the excuses one may hear for young Muslims who join ISIS--- colonialism, American foreign policy, poverty, racism, etc.--- the real issue is one many don’t seem to understand: these people don’t identify with the West, and they don’t want to. Under the spell of the strident fanatics in their community, they feel as if they only owe fealty to their “Muslim brothers and sisters” in the East.

The often maligned British Conservative politician, Enoch Powell, was right in his critique of multiculturalism when he said that the issue is “not racial or religious discrimination: it is communalism.”

Notwithstanding Britain’s self-loathing that has rendered it mostly rudderless, some moments of clarity do occur when it comes to its homegrown extremists. The decision to revoke the citizenship of ISIS bride, Shamima Begum, in accordance with the British Nationality Act is morally correct and lawful.

Begum, a person of dual British-Bangladesh citizenship, justified the Manchester Attack by saying it was a “two-way thing” as it was “retaliation” for coalition bombings of ISIS. She doesn’t appear to be too regretful about joining the group.

Unsurprisingly, the decision has elicited complaints from bleeding hearts over the last week. One writer for the Guardian, for example, wrote that Britain must meet its “responsibility to a vulnerable citizen.” Furthermore, what Britain should realize is that what enticed Begum to join ISIS was what she understood as its appeal to “benign and uncontroversial” family values.

Continuing to make British society the target of derision, this situation is apparently a “reflection of the racist, vengeful, and weak society we are, as opposed to the strong, stable, tolerant, humane, or even base-line functioning one some, unbelievably, still claim us to be.” So, from this point of view, the real victim is Begum and the British people are being unreasonably cruel to her.

This is yet another extraordinary display of knee-jerk self-flagellation by those unwilling to face the reality of Islamic extremism.

I marvel at such inversions of reality. These apologists really should spare us the homilies about responsibility. Why isn’t the responsibility people like Begum have as citizens being discussed?

Although there are some former members of ISIS who say they were hopelessly indoctrinated and have since disabused themselves of Islamism, Canada and Britain’s oaths of citizenship demand allegiance to the Crown and a pledge to “faithfully observe the laws” of the land and “fulfill their duties” as citizens. Begum and her ilk have violated these oaths in the most revolting way possible, and have either committed or were a party to some of the most devilish actions inflicted upon humanity in recent memory.

Members of ISIS have betrayed their fellow citizens by serving a cause that seeks to endanger them, and this is an unpardonable and indictable offence. Canada’s Criminal Code identifies “levying war against Canada” and assisting an “enemy at war with Canada” as acts of high treason. These folks deserve the strongest of punishments, and shouldn’t be allowed to roam the streets even if they insist they no longer have euphoric feelings about jihad.

On the importance of the values upon which citizenship is legally and morally dependent, a study published by Policy Exchange about these questions argues that:

Making war on one’s country or aiding others in attacking it is a grave breach of this duty of allegiance, deliberately putting in peril the minimum conditions of peace and order under which citizens can freely live together. Betrayal is a breach of trust, a violation of the faith that citizens and government ought to keep with one another and an abandonment of the reciprocity that otherwise holds between members of a political community, who benefit from its protection and from the many other goods it creates and confers.

As such, these people don’t deserve their citizenship. Their actions demonstrate that they didn’t much want it either. Even though the “naturally lobotomized” might adduce the history of colonialism and racism as catalysts for a young Islamist’s expedition, they are omitting an unsettling fact; which is that these people leapt at the opportunity to leave and participate in what they saw as the glorious revival of one of the most aggressive empires in history: the Islamic Caliphate.

To reference the words of our Prime Minister, allowing them to come back “devalues the citizenship of every Canadian,” as well as every immigrant who has accepted their civic duty with pride. And we mustn’t tolerate it.

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