Tuesday, January 6, 2009
On the throwing of shoes
Abu Tulip writes:
It may be old news by now, but I'm sure everyone's heard of the "shoe-throwing incident." To most Westerners it probably sounds very odd--did this guy suddenly want to throw something at Bush and his shoes were the only thing handy? Indeed, here in the Middle East throwing one's shoes at someone is one of the most insulting things one can do. Apparently, it's become a trend. A large group of protesters threw their shoes at UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown's residence earlier this week.
You might know that there are certain ways you should sit and not sit in the Middle East. One should not sit cross-legged with the bottom of his shoe pointed at the other party (unless of course he wants to offend him). And, take note: it's not the bottoms of the feet that offend, it's the bottoms of the shoes.
I was once involved in a shoe-throwing incident. A few years ago, when we were quite new here, Um Tulip, Oliver and I went by taxi with another foreigner to Mahatta, a poor and densely-packed area of town. As our taxi passed through one of the busiest intersections, our taxi driver apparently cut off another taxi driver. Shortly afterward, we heard the word حمار ! (hmaar -"donkey" only not quite as polite) and heard something hit our car. Realizing it was a shoe, our friend quickly said, "Let's get out of here!" threw some money at our driver and led us away on foot. I'm not sure what sort of brouhaha ensued afterward, but it may have ended in a bloody nose or (if our guy didn't like his chances) a very bruised ego.
Meanwhile, Baylyblog demonstrates how President Bush missed an opportunity to show true humility and grace in this incident.
It probably looked like this, in black; Arab guys love this style.