Madeley went on the defense after a commenter on social media argued that at the age Begum left England to join IS, “making a mistake is getting a tattoo you regret or a one night stand,” not “deliberately joining a terrorist organisation that loathes and hates the country you come from.”
The TV host then responded with the take many found bizarre.
“There’s one interesting point though, and I was thinking about this last night. Obviously we had the Nuremberg trials after the war and we hanged quite a few Nazis, and imprisoned a lot of others… But we didn’t go after the Hitler Youth as far as I’m aware.”
“We didn’t go after the Hitler Youth, we only went after adults who served in the Hitler regime,” Madeley continued, as his co-host Susanna Reid looked at him bewildered. “And that’s just something to reflect on I think.”
Reid did not nod or comment on Madeley’s remarks, instead giving an uncomfortable look to the camera.
Madeley was soon mocked on social media, with users comparing him to Alan Partridge, the parody TV personality known for his awkward demeanour portrayed by actor Steve Coogan.
Popular radio presenter Greg James called Madeley’s remarks “beyond Partridge,” while another user wrote, “How Susanna Reid keeps it together during this is beyond me. What point is Madeley trying to make here?”
Others called the moment “pure gold” and joked, “There’s no way Richard Madeley isn’t a character.”
Some Brits, however, defended Madeley, arguing that he had made a good point despite the awkward delivery.
“Yes the Richard Madeley 'Hitler Youth' thing was very Alan Partridge. Yes the delivery was comical – but he's absolutely 100% right,” weighed in journalist Otto English. “Begum was a 15 year old child groomed by an extremist organisation with a foul ideology – just as the Nazis groomed a generation of children.”
Begum – who was born in England to Bangladeshi parents – left the UK to join IS in Syria at the age of 15 in 2015, where she then married Islamic extremist Yago Riedijk and gave birth to three children who have since died.
It was reported in the UK media that Begum served as an armed enforcer of IS’ strict morality laws and she was accused of stitching suicide bombers into their suicide vests.
Begum has been in a legal fight with the UK government for the past few years after it stripped her of her citizenship on national security grounds, making her stateless. Though the UK argued that Begum was not stateless due to her being eligible for Bangladeshi citizenship, Bangladesh has warned that she will be sentenced to death if she enters the country.