A shooting range in The Wirral has defended its use of targets with an image of Shamima Begum, the teenager who travelled from the UK to Syria to join Islamic State, saying it had received a high number of requests from customers.
Children as young as six can visit the Wallasey site, which also reportedly features targets of high-profile figures, such as Donald Trump and Margaret Thatcher.
Begum, now 19, and two schoolfriends left the UK in 2015 but her case entered the news again recently when she told the Times she wanted to return home for the health of her then unborn child. The home secretary, Sajid Javid, has ordered that the British-born woman’s citizenship be revoked.
In a statement to the Victoria Derbyshire show, which was sent the shooting target images of Begum, Ultimate Airsoft Range said: “The targets provide some fantastic reactions and conversations and allow people to have some lighthearted fun and bring out the inner child in us all.
“The targets don’t always reflect personal opinions and we don’t want to condone terrorism. But after watching Ms Begum being interviewed, there was a lack of empathy that she had shown and we decided to listen to our customers and use them as targets.”
The Wallasey MP, Angela Eagle, tweeted:
A spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Britain said: “In a society where hate and violence against Muslims, particularly Muslim women, is most prevalent and on the rise, it is deeply concerning that people requested an image of a real person as a shooting target, especially in the presence of young children.”
They said that while people may feel strongly about Begum’s actions as a 15-year-old girl, “it is incredibly dangerous to use this sentiment to feed into the broader dehumanising of Muslim women or lead to the incitement of violence towards those who happen to look or dress like Ms Begum”.
UK shooting range uses Shamima Begum image for targets – The Guardian