News Day Tuesday: The shoes heard ’round the world


(still from video of shoe-throwing incident)

So I’m sure you’ve all heard about the shoes that got thrown at President Bush during his farewell trip to Iraq.  But in case you haven’t heard about it, at a Baghdad news conference a few days ago, Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi threw two shoes at Bush.  I know what you’re thinking…”Where’s the video??”  Here.

Before we get to how Iraqis have reacted to this incident, first a little background.  In the States (and almost anywhere else for that matter), if you throw a shoe at someone, it’s obviously not considered very polite.  But I think most Americans would look at the shoe being thrown as just another object that could have just as easily been, I dunno, a book let’s say.  But that’s not the case in Iraq.  In Iraq, the shoe has more cultural significance because the bottom of the shoe is considered unclean.  So, you should remove your shoes when entering a mosque or a home.  If you carry your shoes around with you, then you should hold them so that the soles face each other.  You shouldn’t cross your legs because it is impolite to have the bottom of your shoe face someone.  So if these kinds of precautions are taken in Iraqi culture, you can imagine, then, what it means to throw a shoe at someone.  It’s considered to be extremely insulting because what you are saying, in essence, is that the person you’re throwing the shoe at is worth no more than the dirt on the shoe.  You can read more about this here.

The Iraqi reaction to the shoe-throwing incident has spanned the spectrum, with one end proud of Muntadar al-Zaidi and proclaiming him as a hero, and the other end condemning what he has done as unprofessional, shameful, and insulting to the Iraqi people.  Here are some examples of what Iraqis had to say:

  • What this brave journalist did is nothing but rejecting the tyrants in our country. And this journalist deserves to have a statue as he was throwing his shoe at the American president. – Dhyaa Mahdi Salih, a 56-year-old lawyer (Basra)
  • There’s a reaction against this journalist and his improper behavior as he represents the journalists and educated people in our society. Because he should have rejected the American president with his pen or by embarrassing him with his smart questions, not with his shoes. I totally reject this behavior because it will damage the rights of individuals.  – Saeed Naji al-Ibadi, a 49-year-old pharmacist (Basra)
  • We are Arabs and we have a good reputation in hospitality with enemies before friends. The American president also was accompanying the man who represents the Iraqi government and this made it worse because this journalist also abused the prime minister with his behavior.  – Nasir Mahmood al-Bahadli, 52, an academic (Basra)
  • Despite my hatred of Bush, he’s a president for a big country and a guest for the Iraqi government. And we as Easterners think insulting the guest is an insult for the host. Despite our hatred of the guest, there should be respect and diplomacy.  – Karim Muan al-Qaisi, a 50-year-old merchant (Baquba)
  • Bush deserves more than that because his soldiers have killed Iraqis. If Saddam had occupied America and killed the American people, then what would be their reaction? What we do expect Muntader to do when he watched the American forces kill Iraqis according to Bush’s order? Long life for your hand, Muntader.  – Mohammed Ibrahim, 51 (Samarra)
  • I do not like Bush and refuse many of his policies in Iraq, but at the same time I do not agree about the action which brought bad reputation to Iraq, Iraqis and the Iraqi Prime Minister.  – Ahmad Ali, a 24-year-old student (Najaf)
  • I appreciate the heroic position of Muntader al-Zaidi. I appreciate his love to home and his challenge to the occupier.  – Mohammad Zaki, a 27-year-old lawyer (Mosul)
  • Muntader’s action got back the Iraqi dignity. He got back part of our gravity. God bless you Muntader.  – Jasim Mohammed, a 24-year-old laborer (Mosul)
  • Muntader’s action is the top of heroism.  He represents all Iraqis’ tragedies and sadness, but he has not become a suicide bomber, nor planted an I.E.D., nor beheaded anyone. He practiced the democracy which brought by the American. He has to be released at once. He is in all people’s hearts in Iraq and in the whole world.  – Farhan Khalaf, a teacher (Kirkuk)
  • Bush threw bombs and rockets at Iraq and he destroyed my home by drawing a divisive strategy. So does he not deserve to get something from Iraqis?  – Atyya Mejbil Obaidi, a governmental employee (Kirkuk)
  • The journalist is supposed to cover the event, not to give Iraqi’s a bad reputation, embarrassing the government and the journalists who were at the conference in the Green Zone.  – Sarkoon Hanna, a Christian pharmacist (Kirkuk)
  • I spent five years in Saddam’s jails.  This journalist has to throw flowers on Bush, not a shoe, because Bush saved the Iraqi people from a bloody regime.  – Saman Qadir, a 51-year-old mechanic (Sulaimaniya)

You can read many more Iraqi reactions here.

So what do you all think about what happened? 

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14 Responses to “News Day Tuesday: The shoes heard ’round the world”

  1. Jenipher Says:

    I have honestly never been very fond of politics (because of all the chaos it can cause between friends, and family, etc.) , but you can be sure that this news was talked about at my school alot. Most people thought it was what Bush deserved, I was tempted at some point to think alike them but I realized we cannot fight fire with fire.

    I really go with what the 2nd response was, given by Saaed Naji because there are so many other passive ways to get back at him that don’t cause that sort of disrespect. The world isn’t going to point its finger at Muntadar, they’re going to point out to Iraq as a whole and think “So all Iraqis must be equally disrespectful” So I think he should’ve thought about his country as a whole before thinking of only himself. To some he is, in fact, a hero but what is he to the world?

    Sure Bush has a very ‘colorful’ background but there’s always a price to pay at the end. Let life get back at him itself.

    **My intends are not to offend anyone’s beliefs or ideals, I am only stating a point of view. If I have in any way offended anyone, my most sincere apologies.**

  2. Danny the Only Bloke Says:

    I don’t like a lot of what goes on in Iraq, but you gotta love the guys style.

    George W Bush is worth a lot LESS than anything you’d tread in in the street.

    Thinking about it it’s kind of insulting to the shoes………

    Danny the Only Bloke

  3. eddy Says:

    I have to say I don’t like Bush more than I would like living in the bush (not much) but I was impressed by the way he acted to this. He really showed who the bigger man is. Now, whether or not he deserved it is another issue.

  4. superkurre Says:

    @eddy
    I agree. I don’t like Bush very much, but they way he reacted to this showed he is capable of something he hasn’t shown before. I don’t know if he deserved it or not, a lot of people deserve worse and never get it, but perhaps it gave someone something to think about the situation in Iraq. I dunno….

  5. Binks Says:

    I’m surprised he ducked both times 😛 I didn’t think he could react so quickly O_O

    I agree with Eddie and Superkurre, I think Bush acted very level-headed despite the shoe throw, and I’m glad he handled it well.

  6. Kailin Says:

    The man’s got better reflex than someone a third his age. Wow, who would’ve known? As for what the journalist did…well, regardless of where you stand in politics, where was secret service? I don’t think America would let anyone get that close to a foreign dignitary, even if they don’t like their politics (the U.N. meetings are held in New York all the time, and there are certainly some world leaders not very popular in America, yet there are enough safeguards in place to ensure their safety.) If someone can get that close to Bush, then what does that say about the safety of Americans abroad?

    I’m such a pragmatist, so this was the first thing I thought of.

  7. kristina Says:

    A shoe.
    I mean, c’mon, seriously, who throws a shoe?
    Ha.
    Okay, back to the point.
    No matter what Bush has done or said, throwing any object or reacting violently in any way just makes matters worse. What if this guy throws a shoe at Bush, and in return, an American throws a shoe at the Iraqi Prime Minister, and they all use an excuse like wanting to be loyal to their country? It’s just usually not a good idea to react immaturely, but that’s just my opinion.

  8. taylor nikole Says:

    muahahaha I rofl-ed…
    nuff said 🙂
    haha humorous politics… how much better can it get…. if u were to mentioned this to me in person… I would just laugh and say he had it coming 🙂

    great sense of humor afterall

  9. Ash Says:

    Hahaha… Bunks.. Hen would know what its like to get shoes thrown at him. =P

  10. Binks Says:

    haha very true Ash. Hen and Bush should do tea one day 😛

  11. Emma-Lu Says:

    mmm.. . it is true that many hate him, and hatred equals unpredictable reactions in people. But Bush did take heed of the incident and responded diplomatically.

  12. G Says:

    Vicious cycle, vicious cycle.

  13. foretold Says:

    I think everyone is just making too much of an affair out of it. I think people should just ignore this outburst, as it is just too petty compared to other real trouble in the world.

  14. AlyssaMarie Says:

    Eventhough I disagree with many of President Bush’s policies. He is still a Head of State. He is still a political figure that represented the United States. It was wrong of that person to throw a shoe at him. He is almost saying that he disrespects the United States and its citizens. I saw as offensive.

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