10 Oct 2017

The terrorist attack that wasn't

When a foreigner killed a Slovak man in Bratislava last weekend, an unstoppable rumor mill whipped the country into an ill-informed frenzy.

Ria Gehrerová
Ria Gehrerová Denník N, Slovakia
Source: Denník N
The terrorist attack that wasn't - NewsMavens
A bloodied knife. Maarten Van Damme/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Why this story matters:

A foreigner killed a Slovak man in Bratislava last weekend.

Two of three men, having had too much to drink, had a row over a taxi when a foreign man took out a knife and stabbed a Slovak man in the neck.

When the story ran in a tabloid, it repeated rumors that witnesses said the attacker was Arab. Immediately, media suggested it could be a possible terrorist incident and a social media storm ensued.

Conspiracy sites started to spew anti-immigration, racist hysteria. Slovak police tried to fight the fake news that was emerging by releasing all new information about the attack. But the rumor mill was unstoppable.

The truth is: the attacker was an Indian man who married a Slovak woman in 2004. He moved to Slovakia 4 years later, got his Slovak citizenship a few years ago and was working as a project manager in an IT company.

Meanwhile, a day before this attack, in a Slovak village, a Slovak woman and her 3 kids were stabbed to death by a 26 year old Slovak man. And social media barely noticed.

Details from the story:

  • A naturalized Indian man killed a Slovak man after arguing about a taxi
  • Witnesses said the murderer was Arab and huge anti-immigrant hysteria began
  • Police took to Facebook to refute the false claim
  • Only a day earlier a woman was stabbed to death by a Slovak man and it was barely mentioned in the media

Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

The information and views set out on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

NewsMavens is a media start-up within Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest liberal broadsheet published by Agora S.A. NewsMavens is currently financed by Gazeta Wyborcza and Google DNI Fund.
Is something happening in your country that Newsmavens should cover?
Zuzanna Ziomecka
Zuzanna Ziomecka EDITOR IN CHIEF
Lea Berriault-Jauvin
Lea Berriault Managing Editor
Jessica Sirotin
Jessica Sirotin EDITOR
Ada Petriczko
Ada Petriczko EDITOR
Gazeta Wyborcza, Agora SA Czerska 8/10 00-732, Warsaw Poland
The e-mail addresses provided above are not intended for recruitment purposes. Messages concerning recruitment will be deleted immediately. Your personal data provided as part of your correspondence with Zuzanna,Lea, Jessica and Ada will be processed for the purpose of resolving the issue you contacted us about. The data provided in your email is controlled by Agora S.A. with its registered office in Warsaw Czerska 8/10 Street (00-732). You can find more information about the processing and protection of your personal data at https://newsmavens.com/transparency-policy