What motivated 31 year old Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel to commit such crime in Nice?
Despite what the answers here seems to imply, it is still absolutely unproved that this guy’s motivations was anyhow related to fanatic religious belief. Actually, his close friends have said to the press that he mostly did not care about religion [1 ]. Most likely, he was an alcoholic with serious violence and mental health problems [2 ]. So, despite what has been repeatedly said on TV and online, the relationship between this attack and the Islamic State is non-existent - even though they seem to have claimed the attack (of course they did).
Isolation, disillusion and anger at French society need to be considered as motivations that push (and will push) more and more people to turn into attackers. IS showed that it was possible to claim revenge by killing, but you don’t have to necessarily be a religious fanatic to find it tempting. You need to feel deeply angry and know that nothing will ever get any better for you though.
The interesting thing in this guys’ story is that since he arrived from Tunisia in France few years ago, he changed completely, became weird and apparently cut all links with his family. “He was not welcome at home in Tunisia, because he did not come back for many years “, explains one of his workmate [3 ].
When you think about the motivations of the guy, you also have to consider what it means to arrive from Africa in France, and what a shock it is for people who expect to find a better life to eventually end up in misery and despair. From the day you arrive : you are despised by half of the local population, toyed by your boss, exploited by your own relatives and taken advantage of by your fellow countrymen.
Your family back home quickly become very demanding. Many migrants end up taking distance with their own family, ashamed to not being able to provide or exhausted by the continuously increasing demands. When this happen, you better have a friend or a wife next to you, or you end up completely cut off from any sort of love and support in a totally foreign (and hostile) society.
As a French person, I have seen since I am a kid how less fortunate friends and children can be mistreated, and then “radicalized”. Some has turn to Islam, some talk about conspiracy all the time, some have join far-right factions, some are preparing for anarchy and “le Grand Soir”, some have left the country and will never come back.
Was it because of imams or oil money in Saudi Arabia ? No. It was because of our own neighbors, friends, family, teachers and because society as a whole couldn’t care less about them being dead or alive. So many times in their life they have thought that the real problem was them being alive. Some grew pain, did get better or suicide. Others grew anger and are now harming others.
So, what changes will bombing Aleppo bring to this situation ? None. Zero. Except for stupid voters in front of their TVs and computers and the few people that wrote the scripts.
This has more to deal with how French society has handle newcomers for the last 50 years than with “radical islam”. The very root of the problem is coming from inside old colonial Europe, not from the Middle East or some thousand years old book.
France and Europe are in this darkness not because of external threats, but because it still blind to the suffering of its own children. What decent country will let his own citizens suffer ? What sort of a man allow suffering in his house ? The real fight is home.
Attackers are pushed by hate and revenge, not by books.
Sources (in French only, sorry) :
[1 ] Les Dernières Nouvelles d’Alsace : Un ami du conducteur de Nice : “La religion, il s ‘en foutait “
[2 ] La Provence : Qui était Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, l ‘auteur de l ‘attentat de Nice ?
For those who are interested, I wrote something last year after attacks in Paris. I just reread it and it still hold :What should we learn from the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris?
This text was originally published in quora.