Army on France streets spot the difference between Isis Islamists and the mentally ill killers
French troops are on the streets. Why? Is it terrorism. It is a few nutters? Let’s find out.
The Times knows:
“The French government deployed extra troops to patrol streets and urged calm today after three attacks which caused one death and injured some 30 people, stirring fear of copy-cat violence by Islamist extremists.”
So. Muslim extremists are killing in the name of their god?
The French government deployed extra troops to patrol streets and urged calm today after three attacks which caused one death and injured some 30 people, stirring fear of copy-cat violence by Islamist extremists. Manuel Valls, the Prime Minister, acknowledged that the three acts in three days by lone French citizens, including two rampages in vehicles, were a legitimate source of worry in the light of calls by foreign jihadist groups for the murder of non-Muslims.
At the same time, the Socialist premier insisted that the men who ran over pedestrians were apparently not terrorists but suffering from psychiatric conditions.
But? And can you be a terrorist if you’re not a jihadi?
What of the killers?
Bertrand Nzohabonay, a 20-year-old Muslim convert from Burundi, was shot dead after he wounded three officers. The assault was deemed to be of a terrorist nature and ascribed to Islamist doctrines but the authorities put down the two subsequent vehicular assaults to mental disturbance…
The 40-year-old man of Algerian origin who mowed down 14 pedestrians in Dijon with his Renault Clio on Sunday, named as Nacer B, shouted “Allah Akbar” as he drove at them, but he had a long history of mental illness…
The 37-year-old French villager who ran over his victims in Nantes was a disturbed alcoholic with no connection to Islam and appeared to be imitating the previous day’s attack, the authorities said. The man, named today as Sebastien Sarron, stabbed himself repeatedly with a knife after the attack but survived.
Why would Islamic extremists start using cars as weapons? And is that French villager a Catholic? Why not mention his religion or lack of it, too?
“What we are seeing with events in Dijon and Nantes is that they are creating copy-cat reactions,” Mr Valls said yesterday.
Nevertheless, on Monday after two motorised assaults, Mr Valls declared: “Never have we faced such danger in matters of terrorism. We have over 1,000 individuals who are involved in jihad and Syria and Iraq. The string of tragedies that we have been faced with is worrying for all of us.”
The Times is joining in with stressing the religious element:
Tension is high because of calls from the Islamic State (Isis), the extremist army in Syria and Iraq, to kill French civilians at home. “Run him over with your car,” said one Isis video. Before the latest assaults, three French self-styled Islamists staged lone attacks over the past 18 months, killing seven and wounding 11 people in France and in Belgium. The Burundi born man who attacked the police station on Saturday claimed allegiance to Isis and left a testament citing the organisation, police said.
The centre-right opposition today broke with its support for the government’s measured response and accused Mr Valls of failing to take firm action. “He reduces the matter of the fight against terrorism to a struggle against racism and discrimination,” said the Union for a Popular Movement, which is led by Nicolas Sarkozy.
The Times is not alone:
Le Figaro worried about “enemies from within” and wondered if the French jihadist recently seen beheading a captive in Syria was also just mentally disturbed. “From now on it is time to track down those people in France who are attacking us in the name of radical Islam,” it said.
So. It’s certain. The Islamists and Isis are a clear and presents danger on French streets. Not in the BBC, it isn’t. The BBC’s entire report on the 300 French troops and the three attacks contains not a single mention of the words Islam, Isis, Muslims or jihad. This is the entire BBC report:
France to deploy soldiers after spate of attacks
France is to step up police and military patrols in areas frequented by the public following recent attacks, Prime Minister Manuel Valls has said. He said up to 300 soldiers would be deployed around the country to boost security over the Christmas period.
The attacks, seemingly unrelated, in Nantes, Dijon and Tours have left more than 20 people injured.
One person injured in Monday’s attack on a Christmas market in Nantes has been declared clinically dead. Nine others were injured in the incident, where a man drove a van towards a stall in the market before repeatedly stabbing himself. In Dijon on Sunday, a driver shouting “God is great” in Arabic ploughed into pedestrians, injuring 13 people.
Not an Islamist cry, as the Times says. It is a cry in Arabic.
On Saturday, a man using the same phrase was shot dead by police after attacking them.
On Tuesday, Mr Valls sought to reassure the public, saying he understood the public’s “strong concerns”.
President Francois Hollande has called for an emergency cabinet meeting on Tuesday and urged the public not to panic.
The BBC’s Hugh Schofield in Paris says French authorities are playing down the idea that there is a pattern behind the three attacks. However, many people will be asking themselves if there is a copycat element to them, he adds.
The Times links the attacks. But the BBC stresses no link:
Mr Valls told Europe 1 radio there was “no link” between the three attacks and that security forces were dealing with individuals who acted alone. “We do not minimise these acts,” he said, adding that the government wanted to “reassure” the public and understand what had happened.
“The best response is to continue to live peacefully with the necessary vigilance of course,” he added.
Is everyone listening?
Separately, police in the southern city of Cannes arrested a man armed with two shotguns and a long knife at a local market on Tuesday morning. The man’s motivations were unclear, but prosecutors did not think that there was any link to terrorism, French media reports said.
So. Why mention it in a story of three attacks?
Monday’s attack in the western city of Nantes took place at about 19:00 local time (18:00 GMT), with witnesses saying the van drove towards a stall selling mulled wine. Ten people were wounded in the attack. One was clinically dead as a result of their injuries, Mr Hollande said. French officials say the motive behind the attack is not clear.
But can they guess?
“I wouldn’t say it was a terrorist attack. I would call it a deliberate act,” French interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said, adding that an investigation was underway.
But it sounds pretty terrifying.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the attacker in Nantes seemed to be “unbalanced”. Prosecutors made similar comments about Sunday’s car attack in Dijon.
The driver was arrested after targeting pedestrians in five different parts of the city in the space of half an hour. The city’s prosecutor said the attacker had a long history of mental illness, and the incident was not linked to terrorism.
Meanwhile, in Saturday’s incident, a man stabbed three police officers in the city of Tours before being shot dead.
Anti-terrorism investigators have opened an inquiry into that attack.
So. When uniforms are targetted it’s terrorism, but when it’s the people are targetted it isn’t?
The Express has a different take, putting Islam in its headline:
Attacks put France on Islamist terror alert. French forces stepped up security for Christmas yesterday after three separate acts of violence in three days left around 30 wounded and reignited fears of attacks by islamist radicals.
But the Guardian features this quote:
“We cannot speak of an act of terrorism,” Brigitte Lamy, the Nantes public prosecutor, said of the attack on the Christmas market. “It appears to be an isolated case.” She added that there had been no religious or other claims made. “We need to verify this, but it appears to be the same kind of attack as that which took place in Dijon.”
Such are the facts…