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What’s in the Shoe

November 6, 2010

Until a few years back who would have thought that shoes would become a favorite weapon of the masses for demonstrating their anger and disgust regarding certain political policies. In the recent history, it all started with President Bush’s Baghdad press conference on December 14th 2008, when a miffed journalist threw a pair of shoes at the President Bush. The president exhibited agility and dodged both the shoes. The shoe throwing man became a hero for many as he set in the shoe-throwing trend.

If some of you think that the shoe victims were only Bush or more recently President Zardari than you are wrong because many of the world leaders had shoes thrown at them. President Zardari’s shoe throwing incident in August this year got a lot of mention in the media but the government spokesperson out rightly denied the occurrence of any such incident. Since there was no video footage available so the news died down in a week or so.

The most recent example was the former Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who received a pair of shoes during a TV show Q&A while he was talking about his government’s policy on the Iraq war. ‘That is for Iraqi dead.’ The show thrower shouted. A member of the audience quipped, ‘if that’s all they’ve got to throw at you, you’ve got nothing to worry about.’ Incidentally, Howard was attacked in 2009 too when he was delivering a speech at Cambridge University.

Jammu and Kashmir’s Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah was attacked in August this year, when a police man hurled his shoe at him. India’s Home Minister, P Chidabaram was attacked on April 7, 2009 during a press conference when he failed to give a satisfactory answer to a question about the 1984 Sikh riots. The shoe hurler was a Sikh journalist. On April 26, 2009 Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was attacked during a rally in Ahmedabad but the shoes landed a meter away from him.

In February 2009 China’s Prime Minister Wen Jiabao was shoed during his University of Cambridge speech. The 27-year old German national seemed to be upset about the existence of almost dictatorial laws in China. The shoes failed to the reach the Chinese Premier but the show thrower made his point.

In February this year Turkish Prime Minister survived a shoe attack during his visit to Spain. A 20-year old was shouting in favor of Kurdistan and was reported to be heavily intoxicated. In September this year former British Prime Minister Tony Blair received a shoe and an egg during a book signing ceremony.

Not just the political leaders but the judges could also be at risk of receiving shoes. In Israel, the Supreme Court Chief Justice, Dorit Beinisch was shoed during the legal proceedings. One of the shoes hit the judge between her eyes and knocked her down. The other shoe missed her. From the reports it seems that it was a ‘severe’ blow to have been received by any shoe victim so far.

There have been acceleration in shoe throwing incidents since Al-Zedi’s (in)famous shoe attack on President Bush. But on the other hand, in the wake of growing trend shoeing is losing its charm and novelty. So what is actually achieved by commencing this act? In most cases the political leaders remain totally unharmed. They keep smiling and even joke about the incident and carry on with their activities.

In the eastern culture, however, a shoe throwing is considered quite derogatory. It could be an ego-jolter experience yet most of the thick-skinned leaders conveniently ignore the incident as if nothing happened. In the end the event of shoeing is nothing more than providing a few days of gossip and an ephemeral joy to a certain few. The shoeing doesn’t achieve much maybe it is time to think of another novel idea to protest.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Shahid permalink
    November 6, 2010 10:02 pm

    Great post. I’ll repeat what I uttered to a friend who was celebrating “Zardari shoe-bombed” : You can throw a shoe at Bush, Manmohan, Zardari or any other democratically elected leader – however autocratic in ruling persona because there aren’t any consequences but anybody dare throw a Shoe at a moron Sheikh, a Qaddafi, a Kim Jong-il, Omar Bashir or Khameni and his entire family will be tortured and finally assassinated.

    The consequences for throwing a shoe at Bush were there b/c he was a visiting dignitary and even though in the countries of Howard(s) and Manmohan(s), there is provision for them to get shoe-throwers in jail for say a night and small fines for such behaviour, they choose not to do so.

    The celebration when a nut-job Islamist, fame whore person living on social welfare in Britain yet crying for the mythical Khilafa threw a shoe at AAZ was downright depressing for me. Rationality, it seems, has become victim to the sense of helplessness that people feel when it comes to political power.

  2. Shahid permalink
    November 6, 2010 10:04 pm

    To add: Imagine what would happen to a Chinese had he thrown a shoe at Jiabao within the territorial boundaries of China?

  3. November 8, 2010 2:21 am

    The very next day after the Iraqi journalist threw a shoe on Prez. Bush, I had a mail with a flash game. The game had Bush Jr. as the target,and he is ducking randomly and moving around the diaz, while the player gets to whack Bush with shoes by the click of a button. Every successful hit earns the player points.

  4. November 9, 2010 11:50 am

    And I received the same game with the picture of Zardari and I loved playing it : D

    Nice post with collection of all the Shoe attacks.

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