On the anniversary of that Bush shoe-thrower, more from the Arab footwear-hurling habit

Published December 11th, 2013 - 13:34 GMT

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george bush shoe throw
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Image 1 of 10: Infamous shoe: The US President-dodged loafer was lobbed by Muntadhar al-Zaidi. 'That' shoe was tossed as a message to George Bush to knock off US shenanigans in Iraq. A bid by a Saudi billionaire to the tune of $10 million was made on the 'original' missed shot shoe. Imagine what the bounty might have been had it hit the unpopular target?

musharraf ahmadinejad shoe attack
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Image 1 of 10: Flying shoes, duck for cover! Former Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf and Iran’s former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad bore the brunt of several soles during their time in office. An angry lawyer targeted Musharraf in 2013 on his return after 4 years in exile and Iran's ex-leader received his own 2009 kick in the teeth during a homeland speech.

Turkish supporters throw shoes at Israeli basketball
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Image 1 of 10: These fans really know how to kick it on the court: During a 2009 basketball game between Turkey and Israel, Turkish fans had a ball (or rather, a shoe!) pummeling Jewish players with their own kicks as the team warmed-up on the court.

lily allen shoe attack
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Image 1 of 10: The new Protest pump: While it’s common as muck in the Middle East region-- shoethrowing has become a proper protest prop elsewhere, replacing the traditional tomato and egg staples. Even western celebs have had a go at their paparazzi pursuers using slick soles. Take Lilly Allen’s Louboutin stiletto swipe at the press in 2007!

pile of shoes
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Image 1 of 10: 3,2,1, Fire! No bombs are coming out of this cannon in Calgary. Protestors in this Canadian city launched their own weapons of minor destruction-- sneakers and soles of all kinds at effigies and impressions of US President George Bush during a March 2009 demonstration against America’s war crimes.

beckham shoe incident
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Image 1 of 10: Beckham’s boot boo-boo: English footie star David Beckham’s gash on his brow after a 2003 shoe scuffle with his unhappy coach raised a shoe-storm! While Man U refused to comment on the alleged tiff off the turf, saying “whatever happens in the dressing room remains.." (in the dressing room), Ferguson called the boot blip “an accident.”

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Image 1 of 10: Shoe-bomber bummer! Obviously trending as the hot item for attack, shoes have gone from being thrown to being blown...up that is. You can thank Richard Reid for all the toe jam in the security line after his attempts to board a 2001 flight in Paris with a crafty shoe fuse on his feet. If only he could have put the bomb in his knickers.

satwa combat school
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Image 1 of 10: Shoe Academy: Which type of shoe to throw? What is the best angle from which to toss my slipper at that leader? Where there is a need, there is a a shoe-throwing school, or a satirical video that gets its creator jail-time. A US citizen in the UAE has been imprisoned for posting a mockery YouTube vid teaching savvy sandal throwing techniques.

thank you for throwing your shoe
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Image 1 of 10: Virtual shoe crimes: Can’t make it to the big press conference to chuck a cobbler at a politician or leader you despise? No worries! Websites as thankyouforthrowingyourshoe.com allow people to post pictures of themselves with their preferred shoe (weapon) of choice in solidarity with those soles whose footwear hurling hit headlines globally.

web game throwing shoes assad
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Image 1 of 10: For shoes sake, get your game on!

When Mike Myers asked, Who throws a shoe? Honestly!… he had obviously forgotten the whole Arab quarter of the globe where any respectable angry Arab has thrown a few pairs by the time he’s grown a pair (and some stubble - and that’s sooner than in the non-Arab world). A vulgar habit, probably but common practice on the Arab street and behind closed doors, definitely.

Austin Powers International Man Of Mystery Part 1 brought the cool to shoe-throwing courtesy of Random Task long before the man who tried to (debase) make a fool out of our upstanding hard-to-mock Bush made the sport a popular form of protest. On the anniversary of the Bush shoe-thrower’s footwear flinging felony, we take a look at the drama, trivia and copy-catting this badass Muntadhar al-Zaidi inspired with his intrepid hurl in 2008.

Why shoe-throw? Why do Arabs express their disdain with their feet first?

It’s like asking why smoke the hookah pipe in the Arab world! The temper-triggered custom is about as ancient as time immemorium, but what are the origins of this idiosyncratic and potentially violent (depending if ‘combats’, stilettos or soft canvas shoes are used) habit? Well at the sole of the most emphatic expression of insult is the idea of the shoe being unclean (we doubt Arabs tell their young ones the tale of the old lady that lived in a shoe!). And raising a shoe to someone is considered the highest form of insult, representing the sheer disgust held by the perpetrator.

On the back of the original notorious shoe crime that captured the world’s imagination - we’re talking non-other than that man who dared to lob a shoe at the then President Bush Junior -and inspired copy-cat shoe-throwers to come out of the woodwork, the custom became cemented as an alternative tomato/ egg-chucking ritualistic register of disdain, often to dramatic effect in the public or political arena.

Copy cat clog crimes or Western throwbacks (or sling backs!) to the original hot-headed Arab version have been hard-hitting. Just like the Arab Spring born in the Middle East but morphed into Occupy Wall Street and other continental European variations , shoe throwing has taken on a momentum of its own transcending borders…..striking leaders in Pakistan, Iran and even beyond Muslim planes (or flats) and political 'platforms' (invading celebs and sports both before the Bush-thrower put the sport on the map and since).

It is a staple in the Arab world where daily throwings occur when riled-up Arabs chose to express their disdain…But how far-flung has this custom grown and spread beyond regional borders? And was the tradition alive and kicking well before 2001’s politically charged foot-map?

Here we trace the  trajectory of the famous flying shoe of Baghdad "This is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog" from past to present--  from the slippery slipper to the soaring sandal here’s a dip into the hazardous world of shoe-throwing! Duck and dive for cover!

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