A French mother who named her son Jihad has reportedly been convicted by an appeals court in the city of Nimes, France, of “glorifying a crime” for sending the 3-year-old to school wearing a shirt emblazoned with the French words for “I am a bomb” and “Jihad born on September 11th.”
The woman, Bouchra Bagour, was given on Friday a one-month suspended prison sentence and ordered to pay a €2,000 ($2,705) fine for having the boy, -- who was named Jihad when he was born on Sept. 11, 2009 -- wear the shirt, according to the Local, an English-language French news outlet. The boy’s uncle, Zeyad Bagour, who bought the shirt for Jihad, was convicted of the same crime: He was given a two-month suspended prison sentence and ordered to pay a fine of €4,000 ($5,409.)
Bouchra Bagour put the shirt on her toddler on Sept. 25 of last year, then took him to school wearing it, but when Jihad’s teacher saw it, she went to the authorities prompting prosecutors to launch an investigation several days later.
The duo -- who the prosecutors described as not being known Islamists -- argued their innocence in court, saying they had the boy wear the shirt as a “joke,” but the claim didn’t get them off the hook.
“At some point, there must be limits. They are not stupid. They understand the significance of what they are doing,” the Local previously quoted a prosecutor as having told the court in French, referring to Jihad’s mother and uncle.
The mother claimed in court that she hadn’t expected there to be an outcry over her choice of clothing for Jihad. “For me, the text is simply my son’s name and his date of birth,” she said in French. “It’s a bit different, but I thought it would make people laugh. ... My brother gave my son the sweatshirt, I put it on him, and I never thought anything of it.”
Zeyad Bagour also claimed he was innocent in remarks before the court, but was unable to avoid conviction. “I had no intention of being provocative or shocking people,” he said. “For me, the words ‘I am a bomb’ mean ‘I am beautiful.’”
The pair’s attorney, Gaële Guenoum, called the court’s decision to overrule a lower court’s not-guilty ruling “severe, surprising and amazing.” The siblings could have been sentenced to as long as a year in prison and a €45,000 ($60,845) fine for the crime.
The case started a controversy in France as a select group of citizens and politicians including Josette Pessemesse of the Front de Gauche party called for the court to protect the “right to humor.”