Will France attack fuel tensions?

Story highlights

  • Yassin Salhi has been detained over an attack that left one dead in France
  • Jonathan Laurence: Public discussions of violent radicalization have hit saturation point

Jonathan Laurence is associate professor of political science at Boston College and nonresident senior fellow at the Center on the U.S. and Europe at the Brookings Institution. He is author of "The Emancipation of Europe's Muslims" and co-author of "Integrating Islam."

(CNN)News that a man brandishing flags professing faith to Islam carried out a fatal attack at a gas plant near Lyon sent the French political establishment into a frenzy, pulling President Francois Hollande out of his meetings and into a specially convened council of defense advisers.

This seems, in the light of day, to be an overreaction to an incompetent criminal act. Compared to January's events, when three men turned heavy arms against targets of high symbolic value -- the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher market in the capital city -- Friday's attack was a dud. There was a personal connection -- the victim reportedly knew his alleged killer -- and it was limited in scope. Firemen