A woman who sent her three-year-old son to school in a t-shirt marked “Jihad, Born September 11, I am a bomb” has been fined €2,000 and given a one-month suspended jail sentence.
Bouchra Bagour and her brother Zehad were found guilty of condoning a criminal act. He had bought the young child the t-shirt. When he arrived at nursery wearing the offending item, staff became upset and a local official took legal action. Bagour had earlier been acquitted but the Court of Appeals disagreed. Zehad’s fine was €4,000 and he also received a suspended sentence. Under French law, justifying a crime in public is punishable by up to five years in prison and a 45,000-euro fine.
Bagour claimed that she had put it on her son, who is named Jihad, ‘without stopping to think about it’ when he wore it to school on 24 September last year.’ I thought it might make people laugh,’ she stated. She also states that the date 11 September was in reference to her son’s birthday and that bomb meant ‘handsome’. Gaele Guenoun, Bagour’s lawyer, said she was astonished at the verdict.
While the t-shirt was perhaps inappropriate and in bad taste, was it criminal? What about freedom of speech? Josette Pessemesse, from the far-left Front de Gauche party, wrote an open letter to the court defending the ‘right to humour.’ ‘This is the same as qualifying all Muslims as terrorists,’ Pessemesse told France Info. While we agree it was unfair to put a three year old in a situation that would obviously cause such controversy, these kind of sartorial restrictions leave us a little concerned. What do you think, completely justified or an infringement on freedom of speech?