A shooting range in Wallasey, England, has become the subject of scrutiny and criticism after it was revealed that the establishment was using images of ISIS bride Shamima Begum for target practice.
As reported by the BBC, the shooting range had received numerous requests from their customer base, who were looking to use images of Begum as a target while using the range. Speaking to the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire — on the program of the same name — Ultimate Airsoft Range explained that the range was intended “for people to learn the importance and safety of handling weapons, while having fun.”
The BBC was provided with one already-used target, which featured an image of Shamima Begum. The target was already riddled with dozens of bullet holes. Ultimate Airsoft Range even went so far as to promote the new targets depicting Begum. On the range’s Twitter page, the company announced the arrival of the new targets, which contained hashtags including “made your choice” and “no remorse.” As the BBC notes, the tweets have since been deleted.
As the BBC notes, this isn’t the first time that the shooting range has used targets depicting famous figures and celebrities. Ultimate Airsoft Range has provided images of Donald Trump, Justin Bieber, Margaret Thatcher, and Adolf Hitler, just to name a few.
A #Wirral shooting range using an image of Shamima Begum as a target has defended the move. @Ultimateairsof2 in #Wallasey claims it provides 'light-hearted fun' for customers after a record number of requests to practise shooting at the 19 year old British woman who joined IS. pic.twitter.com/CLignyUnmx— BBC Merseyside (@bbcmerseyside) February 27, 2019
As The Guardian explains, Begum, along with classmates Amira Abase and Kadiza Sultana, left the United Kingdom in 2015 in order to join ISIS. At the time, Begum was only 15-years-old, but despite her young age, she traveled from the UK to Syria in order to join the terrorist group. Shortly after arriving in Syria, Begum married Yago Riedijk, a Dutch native who had converted to Islam.
Shamima Begum is now 19-years-old, and she was recently found at a Syrian refugee camp by journalist Anthony Loyd. Begum, who just gave birth to her youngest child, showed interest in returning to the United Kingdom to raise her child. However, she showed no remorse for joining ISIS, which did not help her image in the UK. Earlier this month, her UK citizenship was revoked, leaving her stateless.
A spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Britain weighed in on the recent events.
“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,” the spokesperson explained. “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”.
Andrea Eagle, an MP for the town of Wallasey, took to Twitter to express her concern.