- By Marya HannunMarya Hannun is a Ph.D. student in Arabic and Islamic studies at Georgetown University. Follow her on Twitter at: @mrhannun.
You’ve probably noticed that the Russian republic of Chechnya has dominated the news today, as we learn more about the suspects implicated in the Boston Marathon bombing. For some, though, this has led to more confusion than clarity. On Friday, the Czech Republic began trending on Twitter as people mixed up the two locations — located 1,600 miles apart.
In addition to prompting a host of angry responses, the mix-up has now even elicited a response from the Czech ambassador to the United States, Petr Gandalovic, who seemed rather offended and posted the following statement on the embassy’s website:
As more information on the origin of the alleged perpetrators is coming to light, I am concerned to note in the social media a most unfortunate misunderstanding in this respect. The Czech Republic and Chechnya are two very different entities – the Czech Republic is a Central European country; Chechnya is a part of the Russian Federation.
As the President of the Czech Republic Miloš Zeman noted in his message to President Obama, the Czech Republic is an active and reliable partner of the United States in the fight against terrorism. We are determined to stand side by side with our allies in this respect, there is no doubt about that.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the only diplomatic kerfuffle to arise from the search for suspects. On Thursday, the Yemeni embassy sent out a press release demanding that MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews apologize for inquiring about whether federal investigators could determine from photo and video footage whether the suspects were of Yemeni origin:
The Embassy of Yemen was concerned and appalled this evening when MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews indirectly branded the people of Yemen as terrorists. This was an unfair comment, which the Embassy of the Republic of Yemen in Washington, D.C. strongly condemns.
The U.S. media and Twittersphere haven’t exactly done a spectacular job getting the facts straight this week. We can only hope that as the story plays out, it doesn’t spark any additional international standoffs.