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French mom, uncle face fines for 3-year-old's T-shirt reading 'Jihad' and 'I am a bomb'

Similar T-shirts, like this one sold by American Apparel, are widely available online. The slogan, which translates as "I am a bomb," is usually taken to be a slang expression of self-regard.

A French woman told a court that she simply wasn't thinking when she sent her 3-year-old son to kindergarten wearing a T-shirt reading "Jihad, born September 11" on the back and "I am a bomb" on the front, French media reported Thursday. 

The woman, Boucha Bagour, 34, and her brother, Zeyad Bagour, 29, could be fined 1,000 and 3,000 euros ($1,300 and $3,900), respectively, when their trial on charges of "apologizing for terrorism" resumes next month, the newspaper Le Parisien reported. Both have pleaded not guilty.

At a hearing Wednesday near Avignon, Bagour, a single mother, said she dressed her son — who really is named Jihad and who she said really was born on Sept. 11 — "without thinking about it" last September. She was charged after teachers and the principal complained to authorities.  

"I thought it might make people laugh," she said, according to Le Parisien.

Zeyad Bagour, the boy's uncle, who is also charged because he bought the T-shirt, said he, too, didn't think there was a problem. The French phrase "je suis une bombe" — literally, "I am a bomb" — is a slang expression of self-regard, and "to me, it means 'I am beautiful,'" he said, adding, that T-shirts with the slogan are widely available in Avignon's markets.

The T-shirts are also widely available for sale online. They're even sold by American Apparel.

The Bagours' lawyer put it more bluntly, telling the court, according to the newspaper, that if they truly meant to support terrorism, they picked a poor venue, noting that the class was filled with kindergartners "who cannot read." 

In an interview with the newspaper La Provence in November, Boucha  Bagour said that while she is Muslim, "there is no message to be conveyed by the T-shirt — no intent."

"'Bomb' is used in the sense of 'handsome,' nothing more," she said. "And my son was actually born on September 11."

"It's just a simple phrase on a T-shirt," she said. "It's nothing dangerous."

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