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When is it terrorism? And when is it a mental health issue? France’s interior minister is branding Saturday night’s fatal stabbing of a German tourist near the Eiffel Tower a “failing of psychiatric care”. We ask about Gérald Darmanin’s words and the profile of a 26-year old suspect who had been detained before, treated before and who remained on a  police radicalisation watchlist. 

Times have changed since 2015, when France was the target of a wave of jihadist-inspired terror attacks. But there are constants. Whether it is pre-planned political violence or a spur-of-the-moment impulse, it takes a deranged mind to attack random strangers. 

Why do some cross the threshold from verbal violence, of which there is plenty these days, to physical violence? Has the world become a more violent place since the Covid pandemic, or does social media simply play on fears and amplify acts of horror?

Produced by Alessandro Xenos, Juliette Laurain and Imen Mellaz.

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