Home inContext Some Sole Searching on Mideast Shoe Hurling

Some Sole Searching on Mideast Shoe Hurling

Michael Sharnoff

Last week, an Iranian protestor tossed a shoe at President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a political rally in the city of Urmia.This was the latest in a string of footwear-flinging. Last December, Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi launched two shoes at U.S. President George Bush at a Baghdad news conference. Last month, pro-Palestinian demonstrators hurled shoes at Israeli ambassador Benny Dagan in Stockholm, and IDF spokesman Ron Adelheit in Amsterdam.

The Sunnah, Islam’s main body of law, says that if shoes are dirty, they must be removed before entering the mosque. The Arab world takes this to an extreme by viewing shoes a symbol of impurity.

Iraqi blogger Abbas Hawazin muses that shoe throwing is now a secular, mainstream outlet to vent anger. Last month, a German student called Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao a “dictator” before launching a shoe at him during a Cambridge University lecture.