Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shoe throwing latest example of famous insult


A shoe sits on a picture of US President Barack Obama shaking hands with former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert during a gathering to mark the 30th anniversary of freezing Iran and US diplomatic ties in Tehran on April 9, 2009.



Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became the latest target of wing-tips when a protester hurled his Hush Puppies at him during an official event Tuesday in Egypt.

While Americans view George W. Bush’s 2008 shoe-throwing incident with bewildered amusement, lofting loafers is a serious insult in many parts of the world.

What's worse for the Iranian leader is, this was the second time he's had the boots put to him. In 2011, he was hit by an Iranian man.

“One of the participants of the ceremony managed to reach the seats in the front row and threw his shoes at the president while criticizing unemployment in the country,” Iranian media said, according to reports then in the Guardian.

The sole suspect was said to be a man in his mid-40s who recently lost his job at a textile factory, and who hadn’t been paid for a year.

Today’s thong-throwing incident was among a throng of people watching as Ahmadinejad and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi embraced.

Police arrested four men, said to be Syrians, NBC News reported

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Because shoes remain on the ground at the lowest part of the body, they’re considered dirty in the Arab world and in many Asian countries. Muslims remove their shoes before entering mosques, while Buddhists do the same before entering temples. It's also customary to avoid pointing one's feet at another, which indicates disrespect.

Showing someone the bottom of your shoes or throwing your shoes and hitting someone is even more insulting.

Other well-known targets of shoe-throwing include Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik and, of course, President Bush.

Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi memorably tossed his shoes at Bush during a news conference, shouting, “This is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, dog.”

In May 2011, Hayder Mustafa Qasim threw his shoes at Breivik as he answered charges of killing dozens during a political rally.

Qasim’s brother had died during Breivik’s onslaught, Reuters reported.

Other notable members of the well-heeled set include Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, then-IMF director Dominique Strauss-Khan and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

More from GlobalPost: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad makes historic trip to Egypt