PARIS (AP) — A French appeals court convicted a woman and her brother on Friday for "justifying a crime" after her toddler son, named Jihad, went to preschool in a T-shirt bearing the words "I am a bomb" and "Jihad: Born on Sept. 11," a defense lawyer said.
Bouchra Bagour was given a 2,000-euro fine and a one-month suspended prison sentence and her brother, Zayed, received a 4,000-euro fine and two-month suspended sentence in the court in southeastern Nimes, her lawyer, Gaele Guenoun, said by phone.
The ruling, which strikes at the intersection of free speech and France's laws barring hate speech and denial of crimes like genocide, comes months after a lower court in nearby Avignon acquitted the defendants. In France, prosecutors can appeal such rulings — and they did in this case, to the Nimes appeals court.
Under French law, justifying a crime in public is punishable by up to five years in prison and a 45,000-euro fine.
Guenoun called the decision "severe" and said she was astonished the lower court's verdict was overruled, arguing that it had weighed the case thoroughly.
The ruling centered on a teacher's complaint after the boy, whose birthday is Sept. 11, wore the shirt to preschool in the Provence town of Sorgues last year. The brother had the shirt made, according to the lawyer.
After the teacher's complaint, the mother quickly apologized, and the boy never wore the shirt to school again, Guenoun said, acknowledging the move showed "bad taste." She didn't specify her client's motivations, but said that Jihad was not an unusual first name.
Bouchra Bagour, who was not in court for Friday's ruling, was not a religious militant and "doesn't have the profile at all of someone would do this as a provocation," Guenoun said, adding that her client would wear skirts and was "rather lady-like."
Guenoun said it was not immediately clear whether Bagour would appeal.
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