French ‘Mama Jihad’ jailed for spurring on son in Syria

Thomas Klotz, French lawyer for Christine Riviere, a radicalized mother known as “Mama Jihad,” talks to journalists as he arrives at the courthouse in Paris. (Reuters)
Updated 07 October 2017
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French ‘Mama Jihad’ jailed for spurring on son in Syria

PARIS: A French woman who traveled three times to Syria in support of her terrorist son was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Friday for being part of a terrorist conspiracy.
Christine Riviere, 51, was sentenced for her “unfailing commitment” to jihad and for helping a number of young women travel to Syria to marry militants including her son, Tyler Vilus.
It was the maximum sentence possible and included a stipulation that Riviere, a Muslim convert nicknamed “Mama Jihad” in the French press, will be ineligible for parole for seven years.
Vilus, 27, traveled to Syria to fight alongside Daesh in 2012 or 2013.
Riviere, who visited her son three times in 2013 and 2014, denied fighting with Daesh, though she posted pictures on Facebook of decapitations and of herself holding a Kalashnikov.
“I didn’t want to push him to die a martyr, but that could happen,” she said of her son. “Then he would be in heaven, near Allah.”
Friday’s verdict came barely a week after the conviction and sentencing of another French mother of a terrorist.
Nathalie Haddadi, 43, whose son fought and is thought to have died in Syria, was given a two-year jail sentence for financing terrorism because she wired funds to him.
Haddadi’s lawyer Herve Denis said she would appeal the verdict, to avoid it becoming a precedent for the 2,000 French parents whose children had traveled to Syria to wage jihad.
Riviere’s 30-year-old son Leroy, in tearful testimony, said he did not think his mother had “killed innocents.”
“She left for her son, for love, not to fight,” he said.
He described Riviere as a loving mother who dreamed of going on a world cruise with her sons, who were named after characters in the television series “Fame.”
A psychiatrist who served as an expert witness at the trial said Riviere had lost her critical and moral judgment and had fantasies about sharing her son’s extremism.
Her lawyer Thomas Klotz described a woman who had lost her bearings but had only a rudimentary knowledge of Islam. “She is completely lost, we are in the heart of darkness,” he said.
The prosecutor called Riviere a “jihad madam” because she supplied brides to Daesh soldiers.
Riviere said she converted to Islam in 2012 at her son’s behest but would have been drawn to the religion anyway, saying it had “calmed” her.
Riviere, the daughter of funfair workers, was arrested in July 2014 as she was preparing a fourth visit.
Vilus was arrested a year later in Turkey, from where he was extradited to France, where an investigation is pending.


Become an Egyptian for $400,000

Updated 16 min 18 sec ago
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Become an Egyptian for $400,000

  • Parliament approves new rules to grant citizenship after five years to those depositing 7 million Egyptian pounds
  • Critics say move is desperate attempt to support economy

CAIRO: The approval by Egypt’s parliament of rules to allow foreign nationals to gain citizenship after five years if they pay nearly $400,000 has sparked an angry response.

Monday’s passing of an amendment to existing legislation creates a category of residence for investors in the country.

Supporters said the move would benefit the Egyptian economy. Critics complained that Egypt already has a large and growing population and high unemployment.

“The Egyptian nationality is being sold not for investment, but for other unknown means,” said Haitham Al-Hariri, MP.

Until now there have been three types of Egyptian residence: Normal, special and temporary. 

The amendment will allow investors who wish to live in Egypt to deposit the required sum into one of their banks after they have been in Egypt for five years. They would then be allowed to apply for Egyptian citizenship.

After being granted citizenship the investor would not be able to exercise their political rights for another five years. As it stands, residents can apply for citizenship after 10 years, without having to make a deposit.

This means the investor would not be able to run for election until 10 years after they arrived in the country. The condition was a compromise included to gain the approval of parliament’s National Defense and Security Committee.

Only a handful of MPs opposed the law. Supporters said that the law would encourage and stimulate investment and bring hard currency into the country.

Marwan Omar, minister of legal and parliamentary affairs, said it had always been part of the law to give citizenship to investors.

Opponents of the bill said the law smacks of desperation as the government scrambles to find ways to increase foreign exchange resources.

Dr. Ali Abdel-Aal, Speaker of the House of Representatives, criticized media coverage of the debate over the new law. 

“Egyptian nationality is not for sale,” he said, in response to some of the headlines about the new citizenship status.

Abdel-Aal said all applications would still go through the relevant authorities, and that the state had the right to reject people at any time.

He added that many countries offered nationality, provided they come with a set of conditions, and that the granting of citizenship would not be detrimental to Egypt.

“There are people who have been here 30 or 40 years and there are second and third generations, all of whom live in Egypt and support us by paying for things like gasoline and diesel, so why not benefit from them through the deposit?” he said.

Some predictions said the government’s profits in the first days of the implementation of the draft law could be up to $10 billion. There are already between four and five million foreign nationals living in Egypt.