Shooting range criticised for Shamima Begum target

By Claire Jones
Victoria Derbyshire Programme

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Image caption,
Shamima Begum left the UK to join the Islamic State group aged 15

A shooting range in Merseyside has been criticised for using images of IS bride Shamima Begum as a target.

Labour MP Angela Eagle said she was "disapproving" of the use of living people's faces by Ultimate Airsoft Range in Wallasey.

Ms Begum left the UK at 15 to join the Islamic State group in 2015, and has since had her UK citizenship revoked.

The range said it had responded to requests from customers, with "record numbers" wanting Ms Begum as a target.

Wallasey's Ultimate Airsoft Range told the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme that the range was intended "for people to learn the importance and safety of handling weapons, while having fun".

"Our targets provide some fantastic reactions and conversations... bringing out the inner child in all," a spokesperson said.

Images provided to the BBC show one target of Ms Begum with tens of holes from where shots had been fired into it.

Image source, Twitter/@Ultimateairsof2
Image caption,
Guns and helmets used at Ultimate Airsoft Range

The company, which says it provides "family fun" for adults and children aged six and over, announced the new targets containing Ms Begum's face in a tweet.

The tweet read "hot off the press" and showed an image of Ms Begum overlaid with a target. It contained hashtags such as "made your choice" and "no remorse".

The post has since been deleted.

Angela Eagle, MP for Wallasey, said she was not in favour of having real people's faces on targets "because it could be misinterpreted".

"They shouldn't be using living people as targets - especially as six-year-olds might be playing," she added.

'Lack of remorse'

Ultimate Airsoft Range said it provided targets of other public figures, citing Donald Trump, Adolf Hitler and Justin Bieber as examples.

"The targets we provide do not necessarily always reflect our personal opinions," a spokesperson said, adding that Ultimate Airsoft Range LTD does not condone terrorism or anyone involved in it.

"After watching footage of Shamima Begum being interviewed and the lack of remorse and empathy she shows, we chose to go ahead and run the targets."

Ms Begum was a 15-year-old schoolgirl when she left her home in east London in 2015 to join the Islamic State group.

Earlier this month she was discovered living in a refugee camp in northern Syria where she recently gave birth to a baby son.

In an interview with the BBC, she said she did not regret travelling to Syria, though she added that she did not agree with everything the IS group had done.

She said while it was "wrong" innocent adults and children died in the 2017 Manchester Arena attack, it was "kind of retaliation" for attacks on IS.

Her family have told Home Secretary Sajid Javid they intend to challenge his decision to revoke her UK citizenship.

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