En tre år gammel gutt hvis navn er Jihad, kommer i barnehaven med en t-skjorte. På brystet står det «I am a bomb». Denne teksten har t-skjorten fra produsenten. På baksiden har guttens onkel lagt til: 11. september 2011.
Barnehaven reagerer, ordføreren reagerer. Saken kommer for retten.
Men onkelen og moren, som er marokkanske, reagerer og sier det overhodet ikke var noen politisk hensikt med t-skjorten, eller guttens navn.
Historien begynner 25. september i fjor da de ansatte i barnehaven Ramieres de Sorgues skulle kle på ungene:
As she dressed the children after a lunch break, a teacher there became alarmed when she saw Jihad’s T-shirt.
Although little Jihad was born on Sept. 11, the teacher saw an outrageous reference to Islamic war and the al-Qaeda terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, in which nearly 3,000 people were killed. Concerned, she spoke with the principal, who was equally upset and called in Jihad’s 35-year-old Moroccan-born mother, Bouchra Bagour.
Told of the indignation produced by Jihad’s shirt, the single mother, who works as a secretary, apologized for causing trouble and said she had no intention of conveying a political message via her toddler. The shirt, she pledged, would be put away for good.
But the issue did not rest there. The principal wrote a report to school district authorities. A copy of the report landed on the desk of Mayor Thierry Lagneau. The mayor, from the conservative Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party, said in an interview that he regarded the T-shirt as a “provocation,” and he immediately stepped into action.
“I said to myself, we can’t let that go by,” Lagneau recalled. “I didn’t know what was behind it, but we could not let that go. We have to impose limits.”
Before long, Bagour and her brother, Zeyad Bagour, 29, were called in separately by national police and questioned about their religious and political leanings. The mother was questioned for about an hour and released. The uncle, who had bought the T-shirt in nearby Avignon and given it to Jihad, said he was kept in custody for four hours, including more than two hours in a holding cell.
Zeyad Bagour, who was born in France and works nights in a fast-food restaurant, said in an interview that he was asked whether he practiced his Islamic faith ardently, whether he was interested in Islamist terrorism and whether he had traveled to Afghanistan or similar countries for contacts with jihadist organizations. His only recent foreign travel was to Ibiza for a beach vacation, he said he replied.
The most troubling question from police, Makouh said, was put to the mother as well as the uncle: Did Bagour induce labor three years ago so Jihad would be born on Sept. 11? The answer from both was no.
After the police investigation, no terrorism-related charges were brought. But the prosecutor decided to charge Bagour and her brother with “apology for crime,” which under a 1981 French law carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and a $58,000 fine.
“Our society cannot tolerate extremist or equivalent attitudes,” Lagneau said at a news conference after the charges were lodged. “I am convinced that all those who have authority must act, denounce, show the greatest firmness. This, I believe, is our duty. Otherwise we would risk trivializing facts that are serious and recognized as such by the prosecutor.”
Zeyad Bagour, a bachelor who lives with his sister and two other siblings, said he had trouble understanding what the fuss was about. He bought the shirt without thinking of any political message, he said. The front already had the words “I am a bomb” printed on it, but he understood that as an expression roughly equivalent to “I am a real looker.” As for the back, he said, he just wanted to put down his nephew’s name and date of birth.
For Lagneau, however, the T-shirt was more than a joke, even an ill-considered one; it was a deliberate call to violent jihad. He hired a lawyer and joined the criminal prosecution, making the city what is known in French law as a “civil party,” claiming to have suffered from an alleged crime.
“They knew very well what they were doing,” he said. “There is no ambiguity possible.”
Dom i saken faller 10. april.
En av forsvarerne sammenligner byen Soruges med Missisippi under rasesegregasjonens tidsalder.
Soliman and Bouchra’s lawyer, Gaele Guenoun, argued that neither defendant was a militant and neither intended to broadcast a political message. The T-shirt was a private affair, they pointed out, meaning it did not correspond to the legal definition of “apology for crime.”
After hearing the arguments, the court took the case under advisement and promised its verdict April 10.
Makouh said Lagneau was acting out of political interest, currying favor among anti- immigrant voters for municipal elections scheduled next year. Although a conservative, Lagneau faces a challenge from the far-right National Front. The front is strong among the 18,500 residents of Sorgues, and its rising star, Marion Marechal-Le Pen, is considering a run for mayor, Makouh said.
“This area is like Mississippi in the United States during the civil rights struggle,” he said.