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Is Citizenship a Right?

Partly in response to fears that Britons who have joined the fighting in Syria may carry out terrorist attacks at home, the UK government wants the authority to revoke the citizenship of naturalized Britons suspected of involvement in terrorist activities – even if doing so makes them stateless. Should any government have this power?

MELBOURNE – Should your government be able to take away your citizenship?

In the United Kingdom, the government has had the legal authority to revoke naturalized Britons’ citizenship since 1918. But, until the terrorist bombings on the London transport system in 2005, this power was rarely exercised. Since then, the British government has revoked the citizenship of 42 people, including 20 cases in 2013. British Home Secretary Theresa May has said that citizenship is “a privilege, not a right.”

Most of the 42 held dual nationality. Mohamed Sakr, however, did not. His parents came to Britain from Egypt, but he was not an Egyptian citizen. Therefore, by stripping him of citizenship, the UK government made him stateless.

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