A British airgun range has defended using images of ISIS bride Shemima Begum as a target.
The airsoft range near Liverpool said they had decided to use the target after “record numbers” of requests and seeing the former London schoolgirl’s “lack of remorse and empathy.”
Begum left the UK when she was just 15 years old to join the terrorist group’s so-called caliphate in Syria, where she married a terrorist fighter, before winding up in a refugee camp as ISIS territory was whittled down to nothing in recent months.
The UK’s home secretary revoked her citizenship after she gave a series of interviews asking to be allowed back in the country while expressing little remorse about joining ISIS or pity for the victims of terrorist attacks carried out in its name.
According to the BBC, Wallasey’s Ultimate Airsoft Range said it had produced targets of Begum in response to requests from”record numbers” of customers.
A since-deleted tweet read “hot off the press” with an image of Ms Begum overlaid with a target, reported the BBC. It contained hashtags such as “made your choice” and “no remorse.”
The range has been using images of the 19-year-old for people to use as a target
But despite criticism from a local lawmaker and from some social media users, and the ensuing “tweetstorm,” the range is sticking to its BB guns.
“The targets don’t always reflect personal opinions and we don’t want to condone terrorism,” a spokesperson told the Daily Mail, pointing out that a whole range of public figures have been used—including Margaret Thatcher, Osama Bin Laden, and pop singer Justin Bieber.
“The targets provide some fantastic reactions and conversations and allow people to have some light-hearted fun and bring out the inner child in us all,” said the statement.
“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.”
Some pointed out that the BB pellets fired from the airguns at the range hardly qualify as lethal intent.
Many people responded on social media by praising the actions of the range.
Some social media users found the move distasteful, and local Member of Parliament Angela Eagle wrote in a tweet, “It is clearly wrong to use photos of people as targets in a shooting game. They should stop.”
One person posted on Twitter, “Childish and distasteful but in a free society I guess they can shoot at whatever targets they please.”
“I can’t see how it’s any different from the picture of Thatcher I had on my dartboard as a kid,” said another.
Another wrote on Facebook,” This kind of humour is what keeps us British sane, Gallows humour is part of our National identity. We are also world leaders at laughing at ourselves.”
Begum, now 19, recently gave a series of interviews to high profile media expressing her wish to return, but her lack of remorse stirred up significant public interest, prompting the UK interior secretary to announce last week that her citizenship had been revoked.
With ISIS territory squeezed to its final dregs by U.S.-led forces in the last couple of months, interest has grown in the so-called ISIS brides who traveled from the West to help its enemy’s cause and are now accumulating in the refugee camps in Syria as the caliphate shrinks to nothing.
Begum gave birth to a son in the last few days in a Kurdish refugee camp, after sparking controversy with her interviews.
The refugee camp of 40,000 has an estimated 1,500 people who traveled from Western nations, predominantly Europe, to join ISIS.