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Shy citizens become British

PUBLISHED: 20:30 29 April 2004 | UPDATED: 04:49 02 March 2010

IT'S designed to be a high-profile recognition of Britain's new citizens taking their place in society, but today Suffolk's first citizenship ceremony is set to feature some of the shiest new nationals in the country.

IT'S designed to be a high-profile recognition of Britain's new citizens taking their place in society, but today Suffolk's first citizenship ceremony is set to feature some of the shiest new nationals in the country.

During the historic first ceremony for immigrants granted British citizenship, Prince Charles said he hoped it "added something to the significance" of becoming a UK citizen.

It was a ceremony intended to be a precedent for successfully, and publicly, helping to integrate immigrants into our society.

But in today's first ceremony in Suffolk, the ten prospective candidates have decided to keep their heads low and out of the limelight.

In joining a country that is seriously considering identity cards, they wish to keep their identity as hidden as possible from the media.

Bob Zablok, who was born in Iraq but became a British citizen 20 years ago after swearing his allegiance in front of a magistrate, thinks the whole process should be made public.

He said: "There should be public adverts in the paper asking if anyone has any objections because anyone can bluff their way through.

"The priest has to do it when he marries people.

"Your next door neighbour might know something more than the police or home office."

The ceremony was being held this afternoon at the Ipswich Register Office, in Grimwade Street.

Andy Allsop, of Suffolk County Council, which is running the ceremony has defended their request for privacy.

He said: "It is not a public ceremony. The people are all a bit shy so we have let them know there will be media interest in it.

"Most of them aren't interested in the attention and that's for cultural reasons.

"We are very excited about it. It is obviously going to be an experience. We will be having a traditional cream tea afterwards.

"We want to recognise and celebrate diversity, but also recognise that this is British citizenship we are conferring on people."

N What do you think? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

FAST FACTS

N All successful applicants applying for citizenship since January 1, 2004, will now take part in similar occasions

N Participation costs £68

N About 90,000 adult applicants are successful each year in their bid to become British.

N Suffolk County Council plans to hold one ceremony every month, in Ipswich and Lowestoft.

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