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!