Monday, 3 October 2011

Shoe Throwing Arabs

When an Iraqi journalist aimed a pair of shoes at George Bush at the end of 2008, it was, admittedly, breathtaking. Muntadar al-Zaidi, the name of the journalist, is one hell of a legendary and ballsy man. While Muntadar’s black loafers propelled toward Bush's criminal and undesirable head during the press conference, he delivered a message on behalf of the masses: “This is the farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog. This is from the widows, the orphans and those killed in Iraq”.

In the Arab world, throwing a shoe at somebody, facing your feet or directing the sole of a shoe in someone’s face is an almost unforgivable insult. Lacing someone’s hummus with cyanide is a lesser insult and a more honourable act of vengeance. But it’s exactly why the Arab world and beyond rejoiced. I could hear the ululations from Iraq, Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon and Syria here in Sydney. Leleleleleleleleeeeeeee! indeed. Reports flooded in, the Internet exploded and parodies were instantly made. Al Jazeera replayed it over and over and over again (bless their golden logo). 

But - however - all smiles and celebrations aside, I have to say, the most repulsive part of the incident is that a shoe-throwing journalist was wrestled, injured and subsequently sentenced to three years in prison while war criminal Bush was embraced. This is a man who gave the green light to invade and occupy Mesopotamia. This is a man who manages to sleep at night while white phosphorous bombs drop over Fallujah. The clown even made an unfunny joke about the size of the shoes after they, regrettably, flew past his head.

Though shoe throwing is a grave Arab insult, it's not as uncommon as you might think. If cameras rolled in every Arab household, you would receive eerily similar footage to the Bush incident. Instead, Muntadar the shoe-throwing journalist would be an Arab mother or grandmother, and Bush, the war criminal, would be a son or daughter who broke mama’s most expensive china set.

I have no doubt Muntadar would have successfully hit Bush if he was a father of teenagers at the time. Some Arab parents have excellent shoe-throwing coordination. It is insane. Fortunately over time, a child will develop strong reflexes and triumphantly duck their way out of it, Bush-style. The trick is to run straight to your room and lock the door. If you don’t have a lock on your door...well, you’re screwed.

Sometimes, Arab parents can be especially unsympathetic. They will force their kid to bring over the pair of loafers/slippers/thongs they just aimed at them. The child, stupidly, hands them over, hoping, maybe - perhaps maybe - they will wear them just like they goddamn should, but nope. Here they come again. Beware the wrath of the shoe-throwing Arab. 


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