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UK Shooting Range Faces Backlash For Using Muslim Teen's Photo As Target Practice

UK Shooting Range Faces Backlash For Using Muslim Teen's Photo As Target Practice
BBC News/YouTube // @angelaeagle (Twitter)

Target practice just got messy.

A shooting range in the English county of Merseyside has come under fire (pun very much intended) after it emerged that staff had been using images of Shamima Begum, a Muslim teenager who left the United Kingdom to join the Islamic State, as a target.

Speaking to the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire program, Wallasey's Ultimate Airsoft Range said 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.

The image below shows a target of Begum that's been riddled with bullet holes.

The shooting range had earlier posted an image of the target to Twitter, describing it as "hot off the press." The tweet also included the hashtags #NoRemorse and #MadeYourChoice.

Now it's facing some rather heated criticism.

Its website also shows other targets, including U.S. President Donald Trump and former English Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

The story evidently sparked an outrage on social media with critics saying that the image "encourages violent attitudes towards those who you harbour prejudices against."

Labor MP Angela Eagle agreed that the shooting range should "stop" using the targets.

Shamima Begum left the U.K. four years ago at the age of 15 to join the Islamic State. A Times journalist tracked Begum, now 19, earlier this month, and found her living in a Syrian refugee camp, soon to give birth. On February 16, she gave birth to a boy.

Begum has said she would like to return home to her parents and has asked for forgiveness, but her impending return has sparked a debate in Britain about the handling of returning jihadists.

In response to her statements, Security Minister Ben Wallace said:

"I'm not putting at risk British people's lives to go and look for terrorists or former terrorists in a failed state."

The U.K. has stripped Begum of her citizenship. Her family announced they intend to challenge Home Secretary Sajid Javid's decision. British law does not allow an individual to remain stateless and Begum has the right to an appeal.

She says she is considering applying for Dutch citizenship.

Shamima Begum: IS teenager to lose UK citizenship - BBC