Flying Shoe Thread

As you have probably heard, an Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at president Bush. Here’s the video (via TPM):


“As Bush finished remarks that hailed the security progress that led to a U.S.-Iraq agreement that sets a three-year timetable for an American withdrawal, an Iraqi television journalist leapt from his seat, pulled off his shoes and threw them at the president. Striking someone with a shoe is a grave insult in Islam.

“This is a goodbye kiss, you dog,” the journalist, Muntathar al Zaidi, 29, shouted.

Bush ducked the first shoe. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, standing to Bush’s left, tried to swat down the second. Neither hit the president. Another Iraqi journalist yanked Zaidi to the ground before bodyguards collapsed on Zaidi and held him there while he yelled “Killer of Iraqis, killer of children.” From the bottom of the pile, he moaned loudly and said “my hand, my hand.””

About the shoes: as McClatchy notes, pointing the soles of one’s shoes at someone, or striking them with shoes, is a serious insult in the Arab world. Juan Cole recalls the stories, from just after the invasion, of Iraqis hitting pictures and statues of Saddam Hussein with shoes. This YouTube should help to get the meaning across:

Personally, I don’t like people throwing shoes at anyone. For some reason, I found myself wondering what kind of shoes they were: a pair of rubber flip-flops wouldn’t do much damage; steel-toed Doc Martens would be a different story. Insofar as I could see anything about these particular shoes, a lot would seem to depend on whether or not they had wooden heels.

That said, I also wondered whether Bush would have had any sense at all of how angry a lot of Iraqis are had this not happened. I’m not saying that that makes it OK; just wondering.