Photo: AFP/Getty Images
A woman in France was in court today after being arrested for sending her son to school wearing a T-shir that read "I am a bomb" and "Jihad, born on 11 September".
Bouchra Bagour, 35, was charged with "glorifying crime" after being reported to police by the local mayor and her son's school last September.
Today, at the start of her trial, she denied defending terrorism. She said her brother gave the T-shirt to her three-year-old son, whose name is Jihad.
The boy's uncle, Zeyad Bagour, is also on trial and denies the charge.
The mother told the court she put the shirt on her son "without stopping to think about it" and never meant to provoke a reaction or offend anyone.
And she stressed that her son was born on September 11, 2009.
"I put him in that shirt only once, just to please my brother who gave it to us. Once I understood it was seen as provocative, I have never done it again."
"For me, this is the name of my son and his date of birth," she said, insisting she didn't mean to refer to the 9/11 attacks.
She also apologized, saying she thought the shirt might "make people laugh" but understands how it could be seen as controversial and "tactless".
The shirt was a play on a French saying "Je suis la bombe", which translates roughly as "I am the best".
Zeyad Bagour said he wasn't defending any cause by buying it. "It's the day his birth I wanted to highlight, not the year," he told the court.
He also said the word "bomb" is used in French slang as "excellent, great" and that he "had no intention to provoke or shock".
The defence argued that it's all been blown out of proportion.
Bouchra Bagour's lawyer told the court: "Jihad is the name his father chose for him. He was born September 11th."
"The phrase 'I am a bomb' in common parlance means a boy is beautiful. It might be awkward but there was no ill intent."
The prosecution said the defendants hadn't shown any regret for this, saying "Who can claim that this is not a direct and scandalous allusion to terrorism?"
The prosecution went on to say that "Idiocy is often the best alibi to hide the real intentions. The most scandalous thing is that they've used and manipulated a three-year-old child to voluntarily convey the words of a terrorist."
If she's found guilty, Bagour could face a fine of $1,300, while her brother could face a $ 3,700 fine.
The trial has been adjourned until next month.
Jean-Frédéric Gallo, a journalist covering the trial for the French paper Midi Libre, told allvoices.com that "The French public is shocked by this case."
"September 11 caused a real trauma here also, he said. "No one wants to play around with Sept. 11."
He also pointed out that there is no real religious issue in this case.
"They are of the Muslim faith, but moderates. They are perfectly integrated and have always respected the French Republic," Gallo said.
"It was a bad joke, a very stupid one. But anyway, it was very shocking for the French."