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Up to six million British citizens, including Muslims, could be stripped of nationality

31st Dec 2021

Hamed Chapman

The UK Government is seeking new powers to remove citizenship without notice and could affect up to six million people in England and Wales becoming eligible to be stripped of their citizenship under Home Office plans. This will also affect hundreds of thousands of Muslims who, despite being born and brought up in the UK, their citizenship may be revoked.

The controversial Nationality and Borders Bill could also lead to a greater number of deaths in the Channel, when safe routes of entry are closed down and force desperate people, seeing no other option, to instead take increasingly dangerous risks, according to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee.

The new legislation, dubbed the ‘Anti-Refugee Bill’, is being rushed through Parliament but has been widely criticised by MPs, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, NGOs, refugee charities, and human rights lawyers.

The Scottish Natopma; Party (SNP) has warned that if it becomes law, it will see “people seeking asylum criminalised with an offence punishable with up to 4 years in prison – whether they have fled the Taliban in Afghanistan, sought refuge from the war in Syria, or escaped religious or any other type of persecution.”

“Instead of community placement of asylum seekers, we will see them warehoused in appalling conditions similar to Napier barracks or – even worse – off-shored thousands of miles away, replicating an Australian system that saw horrendous human rights abuses, huge costs, and utter failure,” said SNP Home Affairs spokesperson, Stuart McDonald.

“It is also a full-frontal assault on the UN Refugee Convention and breaches the UK’s international obligations. This really is one of the cruellest policies I’ve seen come out of the Home Office,” McDonald said.

According to a New Statesman analysis of data from the 2011 census, some 5,604,000 people in England and Wales are likely to be eligible for deprivation of citizenship, including an estimated 408,000 people born in the UK. The figure could be as high as 5,994,000, depending on the nationality of the individuals’ parents.

It found that two in every five people from non-white ethnic minorities (41 per cent) are likely to be eligible for deprivation of citizenship, compared with just one in 20 people categorised as white (5 per cent).

The largest group of people eligible are those born in India. An estimated 431,000 residents of England and Wales were born in India at a time when the country offered citizenship to anyone born there. A further 204,000 are likely to be eligible if they were born with at least one parent who was an Indian citizen at the time.

Pakistan offers citizenship to anyone born in the country after 1951. More than 417,000 residents of England and Wales are likely to meet this criterion, with another 65,000 likely to be eligible if they were born to at least one Pakistani parent.

Labour MP Imran Hussain said his grandfather, along with thousands of others, came to the UK 70 years ago and worked seven days a week in squalid conditions to help rebuild the country.

“Now, the Home Secretary’s Nationality and Borders Bill means that she can revoke our British citizenship and deport us for even the most minor wrongdoings,” he told Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, during PMQs on December 1.

“Given the horrific track record of the Government and the Home Office, with their treatment of minorities, the hostile environment and the Windrush scandal, let me ask the Prime Minister the burning question that is now on the lips of everyone from a black, Asian and minority ethnic background right across the country, ‘When is he coming for me?’”

In response, Johnson said Hussain “should look at the Conservative Front Bench today, and he should withdraw what he has just said—he should withdraw it. What he said was absolutely shameful, and, as he knows full well, the Nationality and Borders Bill does nothing of the kind.”

“It helps us to fight the evil gangs who are predating on people’s willingness to cross the channel in unseaworthy boats and I would have thought that a sensible Labour party would support it,” he claimed.

Since 2006, the Home Secretary has had the power to strip dual nationals of their British citizenship if doing so is deemed to be “conducive to the public good”. In 2014, these powers were extended to foreign-born British citizens without dual nationality, who can be made stateless so long as the Government believes they are eligible for foreign citizenship.

When Sajid Javid was Home Secretary, he revoked Shamima Begum’s British citizenship. Begum left the UK with two friends four years ago, at the age of 15, to join Daesh. She was born and grew up in the UK.

New bill deprives citizenship while curtailing asylum rights

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

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