‘I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.’ Matthew 5:44-45.
Shamima Begum wants to return to the UK. How are we to respond? In many people’s eyes she is an enemy with the potential to cause further harm. It would be a risk to allow her to return. Sajid Javid is revoking her citizenship, leaving her stateless, when others have been allowed to return home, albeit to face questioning and the courts. Is this action that of a civilised liberal democracy or just vindictive? She doesn’t seem to be hiding behind the fact she was a minor when she went to become a Jihadi bride, and should expect to face the consequences of her actions if allowed home. Stripping her of citizenship though, seems to be abrogating responsibility. We should also remember that in the name of democracy we caused devastation in Iraq, which could be said to have contributed to the rise of terrorist groups. As Christians, how do we apply Jesus’ injunction to love our enemies? Is it just for private faith and discipleship or does it have wider application for society? We cannot expect secular society to follow the teaching of Jesus, but we have dual citizenship. Jesus said his followers should be salt and light – not easy in a secular society. Neither is it easy when it comes to emotive issues such as the return of Shamima Begum.