British shooting range defends using images of IS bride Shamima Begum as targets

A British shooting range has defended using images of IS (Islamic State) bride Shamima Begum as targets, calling it "light-hearted fun".

Ms Begum, who left the United Kingdom for Syria in 2015 to join the terrorist group, returned to the spotlight over the last few weeks after begging to return to England with her unborn child.

The Ultimate Airsoft Range in Merseyside, England, said it received "record numbers" of requests from customers wanting Ms Begum's face to be used as a target.

But the shooting range's decision to oblige those requests has sparked controversy, with the Muslim Council of Britain slamming it as "deeply concerning".

"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," said a spokesperson.

Local British Labour MP Angela Eagle tweeted that it wrong.

"It is clearly wrong to use photos of people as targets in a shooting game. They should stop," she said.

But it's not the first time the range has used people's faces. The Guardian reports the range has previously featured figures like Donald Trump and Margaret Thatcher.

A spokesperson for the shooting range told the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire show that the targets were simply "light-hearted fun".

"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."

"The targets don't always reflect personal opinions and we don't want to condone terrorism. But after watching Ms Begum being interviewed, there was a lack of empathy that she had shown and we decided to listen to our customers and use them as targets."

Ms Begum is currently seeking a Dutch citizenship through her IS fight husband, who was born in Holland, after having her British citizenship revoked.