Arts, Culture & Media

Clean Shoes, Folk Dancing, Liza Umarova: Things to Love About Chechen Culture

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Chechnya in Russia 43°24?N 45°43?E (WIKI)

We've been hearing a lot about Chechnya recently. That's because of all the news surrounding the Boston Marathon bombing suspects.

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The Tsarnaev brothers have family roots in Chechnya, a Russian republic in a region with a long history of violence and separatist extremism.

But Chechnya is not all bloodshed and tragedy.

Journalist Nathan Thornburgh says he thinks we need to give the positive side of Chechen culture a fair hearing as well.

e's written a blog post titled "9 Things to Love About Chechens."

So for our Geo Quiz Wednesday – here's your challenge:

Name just a few positive things Chechen culture is known for.

We'll start you off with one clue: it has to do with shoes.

Nathan Thornburgh thinks we need to consider another side of Chechnya.

The former Time magazine foreign correspondent has a written a new post on his blog – Kingdoms and Roads – to counter the cultural stereotypes that many have about war-torn Chechnya. Here's a sample from his list of 9 Things To Love About Chechens:

They have the cleanest shoes on earth
The Caucasus are, for much of the year, a series of mud republics. Chechens live on the mountains or just below them, so when the snows thaw, or the rains come, the unpaved streets of their villages melt into a deep muck. Rather than give in to these conditions, however, Chechens became even more fastidious, particularly about their shoes.

When I first lived in Moscow during the first Chechen War, Russian security toughs were rumored to be racially profiling Chechens, not by their skin color, which can be as light as the Slavsí, but by their shoes. Inexpensive black shoes that were impeccably shined could be enough to get you stopped for a document check. But what Russians saw as the tell of a possible militant always struck me as a testament to Chechen self-respect, even in the face of poverty, or mud.

Check out some of the other "things" he highlights in our interview about Chechen culture, or contribute your own positive Chechen ideas below.

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