Three separate and shocking incidents in France over recent days raised fears that a terrorist campaign had been launched over the Christmas period. They began with an attack last Saturday by a knife-wielding man, shouting ‘god is great’ in Arabic, on a police station in central France, when three officers were wounded and the assailant shot dead. On Sunday, a car was driven into pedestrians in the south-east city of Dijon by a man also reportedly chanting in Arabic, in which 13 people were injured. Then on Monday, a man drove a van into a crowded Christmas market in the western city of Nantes, injuring ten people, one of whom later died. The strange message from the government, writes political affairs correspondent Hubert Huertas in this opinion article, is that the situation is not alarming, but is alarming. For while finally dismissing a combined terrorist plot, it has also slammed the ‘go’ button on the machine that produces fear.