A jogger from northern France has been jailed for six-months after a court failed to see the funny side of him running around town with the name ” Bin Laden ” on a football shirt.
Chakib Limane, 34, was found guilty of glorifying terrorism by a criminal court in the town of Caen on Tuesday.
The man was first arrested in June when he was spotted wearing the Barcelona shirt with the name of the late Al-Qaeda leader on the back in a shop in the town centre. Worried security staff phoned the police.
He told police that he had merely worn it around town to see how people reacted.
But when officers visited his home they found he had various other football shirts with names along the same “theme”. One top bore the name of Afghan Taliban chief “Mullah Omar” .
Another had “Chemical Ali” in honour of Saddam Hussein’s right hand man who was responsible for the death of 5,000 Kurds in a gas attack in in 1988.
He even had one with the name of hate preacher Abu Hamza.
Limane insisted his choice of jogging wear was “just for fun” and his lawyer argued that there was no terrorist intent, nor was he glorifying Al Qaeda’s former leader.
“We must distinguish between provocation and immaturity and glorifying terrorism. All he has done is wear a top,” the lawyer told the court.
But prosecutors countered this claim by producing photos of bin Laden, and a “jihadist video” also found on the man’s computer.
According to a 2001 biography of bin Laden titled “Behind the Mask of Terror”, he was an Arsenal fan during the early 1990 s, when he was living in London, and attended matches at Highbury, in particular during the victorious European Cup-Winners’ Cup campaign of the 1993-94 season.
French authorities and courts have clamped down on any terror-related cases in the wake of a string of attacks since 2015 that have left more than 240 people dead.
In 2013 a mother who sent her three-year-old son Jihad to school wearing a sweater with the words “I am a bomb” on the front, along with his name and ‘Born on September 11th’ on the back, was handed a suspended jail sentence for glorifying terrorist crimes.
Despite her pleas of innocence, a lawyer for the local town hall which had initially lodged the complaint said: “Idiocy is often the best alibi to hide our real intentions.”