There is no evidence of “Islamist terrorism” in Nice – yet media and governments take it for granted

Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel

While the attention of many people has understandably been focused on Turkey in the last few days, it’s worth looking at how the French government and the media in France and Britain are talking about Nice, because it’s bizarre and disturbing.

It remains unclear what motivated Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel to kill dozens of people. But the Guardian reports that, according to his father, he “had undergone psychiatric treatment in the past, and was unstable and sometimes violent.” (It’s worth saying that very few people experiencing mental distress become violent.) There are reports that he was “known to the police” for various offences, including domestic violence (here we should note that Omar Mateen, who carried out the shooting in Orlando, also had a track record of domestic violence). No one has found any connection between Lahouaiej-Bouhlel and religion, let alone faith-based groupings in the Middle East such as Isis – it seems that he never went to mosque, drank alcohol and took no interest in religion. It may be that religion or racism played some part in his motivation, but there is so far no evidence for this.

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