Inclusion or banishment: Fate of Daesh families on the balance

Updated 13 March 2019

Inclusion or banishment: Fate of Daesh families on the balance

  • Aid groups say the politicization of humanitarian issues is the result of growing nationalism in the west
  • At least 60,000 relatives of Daesh militants – many of them women and children – fled into Al-Roj and Al-Hawl camps to escape the intensified fighting

At least 60,000 relatives of militants — many of them women and children — fled to Al-Roj and Al-Hol camps to escape Baghouz, adding to the 6.2 million already internally displaced people across the region, the 5.6 million who have left the country, and the 13.1 million in need of humanitarian aid.

Against this backdrop, Daesh members are not seen as a priority, and they face an uncertain future. It has become an international dilemma, as governments debate the “Daesh brides” who want to return to their home countries.

The UK has already revoked the citizenship of three women who joined the group. Reema Iqbal, 30, and her sister Zara, 28, left London for Syria in 2013, and between them now have five young children. Shamima Begum, 19, who lost her third baby last week, left the UK in 2015. Begum’s family has urged the British government to reconsider the decision as an “act of mercy.”

The family of Shamima Begum have asked for their daughter to be allowed back in the UK as an "act of mercy". (File/AFP) 

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has vowed to deny entry to Hoda Muthana who also left the United States to join Daesh in 2015.

Muthana’s father is suing the US government to have it recognize her as a citizen and to return her to the country.

France is also debating whether to allow two French women to return to the country after leaving to join the militant group.

The women are saying they hope to be judged fairly if put on trial as they feared for their children lives in Syria where many have died.

According to the International Rescue Committee (IRC), at least 100 other children have died either en route to Al-Hol, or inside the camp itself.

President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Francesco Rocca, says he disagrees with the decision made by the western governments.

“Whatever a person has done, there are basic needs that must be met and this is something that is not negotiable. It is about human dignity, it is human rights,” Rocca told Arab News during the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development (DIHAD) conference.

These actions not only affect the mothers but also their children which is considered a collective punishment, Rocca explained, adding that this was forbidden under international law.

“If there is someone who committed crimes, then they have to be prosecuted. It is up to the legal system to investigate and identify the individuals,” Rocca said.

Concerns continue to be raised over the children who had no choice in the situation. (File/AFP)

Spokesperson of the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration (IOM), Leonard Doyle, also says that it is up to the courts to decide and not the politicians.

“Politicians sometimes make expedient decisions in the heat of controversy, this happens all the time, and it’s not always right,” Doyle said.

IOM often works with radicalised people and helps to deradicalize them and integrate them back into their own communities, Doyle explained.

Meanwhile, the SDF has repeatedly called on the West to take citizens back, stressing it does not have the resources to detain them indefinitely.

Rocca believes that leaving people stateless is a political statement, in line with the rise of populism in the US and Europe.

“Certain political actors are using this as a weapon, creating fear. Unfortunately, too many countries are repelling immigrants by calling them ‘illegal,’ something that is dehumanizing.”

In the case of families of Daesh fighters, Doyle said: “We can’t force people back where conflict is continuing, or we risk sucking them into it.”

The executive director of Medecins Sans Frontieres, Mario Stephan, said humanitarian aid should only be based on need and nothing else. “It is very important that we remind everybody that migration is not a crime,” he stated.

Rocca said Syria would provide lessons for years to come. “I hope we will learn from this experience, but I am not optimistic. We see too many similar situations,” he said, adding “what is happening in Syria is also being repeated in Yemen.”

Suspected arson at East Jerusalem mosque

Israeli border policemen take up position during clashes with Palestinian demonstrators at a protest against Trump's decision on Jerusalem, near Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank March 9, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 25 January 2020

Suspected arson at East Jerusalem mosque

  • The attack had the appearance of a “price tag” attack, a euphemism for Jewish nationalist-motivated hate crimes that generally target Palestinian or Arab Israeli property

JERUSALEM: Israeli police launched a manhunt on Friday after an apparent arson attack, accompanied by Hebrew-language graffiti, at a mosque in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem.
“Police were summoned to a mosque in Beit Safafa, in Jerusalem, following a report of arson in one of the building’s rooms and spraying of graffiti on a nearby wall outside the building,” a police statement said.
“A wide-scale search is taking place in Jerusalem,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP. “We believe that the incident took place overnight. We are searching for suspects.”
The spokesman would not say if police viewed it as a hate crime. The graffiti, on a wall in the mosque compound and viewed by an AFP journalist, contained the name Kumi Ori, a small settlement outpost in the north of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
The Times of Israel newspaper said on Friday that the wildcat outpost “is home to seven families along with roughly a dozen extremist Israeli teens.”
“Earlier this month security forces razed a pair of illegally built settler homes in the outpost,” it reported.
All settlements on occupied Palestinian land are considered illegal under international law, but Israel distinguishes between those it has approved and those it has not.
The paper said: “A number of young settlers living there were involved in a string of violent attacks on Palestinians and (Israeli) security forces.”
Police said that nobody was injured in the mosque incident.
The attack had the appearance of a “price tag” attack, a euphemism for Jewish nationalist-motivated hate crimes that generally target Palestinian or Arab Israeli property in revenge for nationalistic attacks against Israelis or Israeli government moves against unauthorized outposts like Kumi Ori.
“This is price tag,” Israeli Arab lawmaker Osama Saadi told AFP at the scene.
“The settlers didn’t only write words, they also burned the place and they burnt a Qur’an,” said Saadi, who lives in the area.
Ismail Awwad, the local mayor, said he called the police after he found apparent evidence of arson, pointing to an empty can he said had contained petrol or some other accelerant and scorch marks in the burned room.
“The fire in the mosque burned in many straight lines which is a sign that somebody poured inflammable material,” he said.
There was damage to an interior prayer room but the building’s structure was unharmed.
In December, more than 160 cars were vandalized in the Shuafaat neighborhood of east Jerusalem with anti-Arab slogans scrawled nearby.
The slogans read “Arabs=enemies,” “There is no room in the country for enemies” and “When Jews are stabbed we aren’t silent.”
The attackers were described by a local resident as “masked settlers.”