“Shoe Intifada” – On the Heels of Dissent


Muntazer al-Zaidi could hardly have anticipated the extraordinary reaction when he hurled his shoes at George Bush to protest the invasion of Iraq. His “farewell kiss” to the US President has kept the previously unknown TV journalist in the center of global attention — a hero across the Arab world and beyond.

Zaidi’s emergence as a role model for anti-American resistance was confirmed by the Iranian Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, who praised what he called the “shoe intifada (uprising)” at Tehran University.

In London, ‘Media Workers Against the War’ presented a box of shoes and a letter…to the US Embassy, stating the journalist was “guilty of nothing but expressing Iraqis’ legitimate and overwhelming opposition to the US-led occupation of their country”.

Ayatollah Jannati called for the [infamous] shoes to be deposited in a museum in Iraq. But Judge al-Kinani revealed they had been destroyed by investigators trying to determine whether they contained explosives.

Copycat footwear-hurling seems to have begun elsewhere, with a Ukrainian nationalist, as yet unnamed, throwing his boots at an Odessa speaker arguing in favor of NATO expansion.

It was also a busy week for the spin-off online game ‘Sock and Awe’, which lets players throw virtual loafers at Mr. Bush. The site says 46 million cyber-shoes had struck the presidential head as of Friday afternoon. (December 21, 2008. GUARDIAN)

Excerpts from article:


Photo shows Iraqis raising their shoes in Kufa, Iraq, on December 19, 2008, demanding the release of Muntazer al-Zaidi, who threw his shoes at the U.S. president the previous Sunday. 

Photo Source:  http://www.thestar.com/news/2008/12/20/the_greatest_insult_of_all.html


How to Read a Flying Shoe? Duck and Shrug.


Footwear – viewed in the Middle East as low and unclean – was hurled at his head, but a seemingly oblivious George W. Bush just ducked and shrugged.

December 14, 2008 was a memorable day in the histrionics of polished shoes and politics. But, there was one question left for journalists to ponder in this saga.

           What does it take to actually offend George W. Bush?

If not the greatest insult an Arab can muster – the hurling of footwear at a man’s head – then what?Is it that the photographic moment ricochets globally and stays, replaying in an endless loop for the ages?Or maybe that the Iraqi shoe-hurler himself is all but deified, replete with offers of marriage?

No, not even those humiliations managed to penetrate the willfully oblivious presidential bubble, after Bush so deftly ducked and just as quickly shrugged off the leather projectiles at a that Baghdad news conference.

“Whether or not Bush gets it – and he is famous for not getting international etiquette – this was a monumental offence,” says Mark McCrum, whose book ‘Going Dutch In Beijing’ chronicles faux pas in many cultures.

“The thrower didn’t just use shoes, which are the lowest, most unclean thing in his world, he called Bush a dog. The combination of the two, it just doesn’t get worse than that.”

In fairness to Bush, it is easy to miss the sheer magnitude of shoe symbolism in the Middle East. But think back and you might recall that shoes played a starring role at the beginning of the Bush’s Iraq ordeal five years ago, when, just as the old regime collapsed, Iraqis spontaneously began removing their shoes and beating them against anything bearing the likeness of Saddam Hussein.

“Whatever George Bush makes of it, the throwing of the shoes comes from a place embedded deep in the culture of the Middle East. This was a cultural message. And the worst one available.”


Excerpts from article by Mitch Potter:



Photo Source: