The Tunisian-born driver who killed 84 people after slamming his truck into a crowd of revelers in the French resort town of Nice had suffered from depression but had nothing to do with religion, his father told AFP on Friday.
“From 2002 to 2004, he had problems that caused a nervous breakdown. He would become angry and he shouted… he would break anything he saw in front of him,” Mohamed Mondher Lahouaiej-Bouhlel said outside his home in the city of Msaken in eastern Tunisia.
He said the family took Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel to a doctor who prescribed medication to counter his depression.
Lahouaiej-Bouhlel described his son as “always alone, always depressed” and not wanting to talk.
The white-haired father said the family in Tunisia had almost no contact with his son after he left for France, but he could not say when exactly this was.
“When he left for France we heard nothing more from him,” he insisted.
The father also insisted that his son “had no links to religion”.
“He didn’t pray, he didn’t fast, he drank alcohol and even used drugs,” he told AFP.
“We are also shocked” by what happened in Nice, the father said.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Friday said Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel was “probably linked to radical Islam in one way or another”, although Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve cautioned that it was too early to confirm such a link.
Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, born on January 31, 1985 in the Sousse suburb of Msaken, was married to a Franco-Tunisian resident of Nice.
They had three children including a baby.
The father confirmed that his son was “not on good terms” with his wife.