Coming Home to Justice

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By: Kenyan Carter | Web Editor

Opinion

Former Hoover High School and University of Alabama in Birmingham student Hoda Muthana has sparked a national conversation on citizenship and the limits of repatriation.

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In 2014, Muthana withdrew from her UAB courses and flew to Syria to join the ISIS terrorist organization after being radicalized through the internet. Now, Muthana is pleading to come back home. In an interview with The Guardian, she said she “deeply regrets” joining the Islamic State. Muthana is a mother to an 18-month-old son and claims she wants to return to provide him with a better life.

This is where things get more complicated. Debates are raging from social media to the White House on how this should be handled. If Muthana, who was born in New Jersey, is still legally a U.S. citizen then she should be expedited and prosecuted under the U.S. Justice system. Some U.S. officials argue, however, that she is not a legal citizen and should stay in the refugee camp in Syria where she’s currently located.

Muthana is far from a victim., however. According to RealClear Politics, Muthana “managed a Twitter account on which she urged others to drive trucks to kill people at American parades. And she urged her followers to look up President Barack Obama’s schedule so they could ‘take down that treacherous tyrant.’”

As an alumnus of Hoover High School myself it is startling to see one of my peers turn to such grotesque extremism. What hit really close to home for me was a photo of Muthana in Hoover High’s TV production room, a place I was very familiar with in my time at the school. Seeing Muthana with my former teacher, sitting in the same seat I used to occupy sends chills through me.

My view on this falls more in line with Alabama State Senator Doug Jones for a few reasons. One is the fact that American men who are identified fighting for ISIS get expedited and tried. The New York Times notes that “nearly all of the captured American men who went to fight for ISIS have been repatriated, but at least 13 American women and children have not.”

This is a strange exception where only the men seem to face trial for their crimes. If Muthana wants to face justice so bad, I say we let her.

Mike Pompeo, the U.S. Secretary of State, says that the U.S. does not believe Muthana is a U.S. citizen, as her father served as a Yemeni diplomat for the United States shortly before her birth.

Pompeo is backed by President Donald Trump who tweeted “I have instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and he fully agrees, not to allow Hoda Muthana back into the Country!”

Muthana’s family is suing to get her back into the country arguing “that Trump would use the case to undermine birthright citizenship.”

Alabama State Senator Doug Jones does not support the president’s method, saying in a statement “My view is that she should absolutely be brought to justice for inciting violence against Americans. Doing so would send a powerful message that any American who lends support to a terrorist organization will be pursued to the fullest extent of the law.”

Stripping Muthana of her citizenship feels like an emotional knee jerk reaction to the situation. She was born here in America, went to schools herein and was even issued a passport to travel here in America. In my mind, she is a citizen and should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. Revoking the citizenship and isolating members of a violent terrorist group is counterproductive, to prevent these people from organizing again we need to hold them accountable.    

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