Yesterday a tragedy occurred in the French City Nice. A truck drove down a crowded street of revelers and killed (as of now) 84 people and injured many more. I grieve for the victims and their families and accept that whatever we do, we can never be safe in this world. We also need to put some time aside and live at least partially in the moment. Tomorrow is never a certainty.
And then there is what we know now and what people are saying.
1. Sometimes, all it takes to stop a bad man is a good man. Guns are not necessary. In fact, wild shots at the truck most likely would have resulted in more tragedy. The truck was slowed enough for police to intervene when a man jumped onto the truck and attacked the driver.
[witnesses] said the man had hurled himself into the cab when the 20 tonne truck was held up by an obstruction. He wrestled with the driver, who seized a revolver and fired several shots at the man and at police officers who arrived on the scene. None was hurt. The driver was then shot dead by two officers.
Not many of us would have had the courage to act under such circumstances.
2. As of now, the attacker seems to be a loner with a violent past but no known ties or even interest in radical politics.
Does he have a record of extremist activity?
No. A French prosecutor said Friday that Bouhlel was known to police for sometimes violent delinquent activity, and he had been given a six month suspended sentence this year for an assault in January 2016. But Bouhlel was not under investigation by France’s antiterror authorities.
Did he claim allegiance to ISIS?
There’s not yet any evidence to suggest he did.
Bouhlel had worked as a delivery driver, the BBC reported, and was married with three children, although he and his wife had been living separately. He was known to local police for several misdemeanour convictions for crimes of theft and violence, but had no known ties to terrorist groups and was not known to hold radical views, security sources said. He was not on the French intelligence watch list.
So far it seems like he was a violent loner.
3. He has been identified as “Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a 31-year-old Tunisian who had been living legally in the city.” His name has immediately brought out the anti-Muslim sentiments with irresponsible media.
Attacks in places like Nice play to our darkest fears. On July 3, coordinated bomb attacks carried out in Baghdad killed more than 250 people. ISIS took responsibility for what was called the deadliest attack in that city in years. A horrible toll, but without streaming news coverage of death and chaos, without video of people running and screaming, it feels far away. Besides, it’s Iraq, where, sad to say, we expect violence.
It’s still shocking to see a terrorist attack rip apart a concert, an airport, or a beach promenade, all places to which we can relate. But not shocking in the way it used to be. Now with the shock comes understanding that safety is an illusion, no matter where we are.
Overall, it seems the journalist is pushing for sanity but the equating this attack with those by ISIL only fuels the anti-Muslim bigotry that inflames many.
Another article that includes this attack with a list of attacks in Europe that were driven by religious hatred.
This is a tragedy. The fact that this man has a Muslim sounding name has nothing o do with his motivations for killing. It seems difficult for the media and the bigoted to call violence by Christians as a religious attack even if violent Christian rhetoric called for action. It seems impossible for those same people to accept that a person with name that sounds Muslim to their ears can be motivated by anything other than Islamist extremism.