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French court acquits mother over son's 'Jihad' T-shirt

Bouchra Bagour (left) leaves Avignon's courthouse with lawyer Gaelle Genoun on December 19, 2012
Bouchra Bagour (left) leaves Avignon's courthouse with lawyer Gaelle Genoun on December 19, 2012. A court in southern France on Wednesday acquitted a mother on trial for dressing her three-year-old son in a T-shirt reading "I am a bomb" and "Jihad, Born o

A court in southern France on Wednesday acquitted a mother on trial for dressing her three-year-old son in a T-shirt reading "I am a bomb" and "Jihad, Born on September 11."

Bouchra Bagour, 35, was on trial in Avignon on charges of defending terrorism after sending her boy, named Jihad, to his school in the town of Sorgues wearing the T-shirt.

Bagour and her 29-year-old brother Zeyad, who was also charged and acquitted, had faced up to five years in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros ($59,000) if convicted.

The court ruled that prosecutors had not proven that the defence of terrorism was "unequivocal", as required by the law.

"I am delighted, it was a discerning and legally justified decision that should put an end to this unfortunate affair," said Gaele Guenoun, the lawyer for Bagour, who was not present for the ruling.

Bagour had admitted to the court that sending her child to school wearing the T-shirt had been "tactless" but insisted it was not meant as a provocation.

She said she simply wanted to make note of her son's birthday on September 11 and did not intend to reference the 9/11 attacks in the United States in 2001.

Her brother, who had also faced charges for having bought Jihad the T-shirt, said after the ruling that he was "happy" and "relieved".

Sorgues Mayor Thierry Lagneau, who had expressed outrage at the incident, said the court ruling did not reflect the wishes of the local community.

"I have the feeling that the law does not reflect reality as it is seen by citizens," he said, adding that the ruling "gives the impression that everything is allowed."

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