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Babylon & Beyond

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EGYPT: What it means when protesters wave shoes

When protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square heard President Hosni Mubarak's natioanl address, in which he refused to step down, many took off their shoes and waved them in the air.

"The message of the shoes is clear," British blogger k2p wrote.

But was it?

The moment was captured in photographs, including one on k2p's blog and another snapped by a prostester and uploaded to Twitpic, titled "The anticlimax."


Some of the best descriptions of the significance of shoe-waving came after another incident broadcast around the world in Dec. 2008 — when Iraqi journalist Muntather Zaidi threw his shoes at President George W. Bush during a news conference in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone.

The Iraqi journalist was detained, and some supporters in Ankara, Turkey, later laid a black wreath with an imprint of a shoe at the gate of the U.S. Embassy in a show of solidarity.

At the time, the Inquirer explained:

"Facing the soles of your shoes toward anyone's face, striking them with your shoe soles, or throwing your shoes at them are considered to be grave insults in Arabic cultures. All Arabs regard streets and, by extension, shoe soles as unclean, and view being struck by shoe soles as a form of extreme disrespect."

Comments () | Archives (7)

Oh no!!...another analysis of shoes in Arab culture. "Facing the soles of your shoes...are considered to be grave insults in Arabic cultures"...Yeah, because throwing shoes on people's faces in the West is considered as an act of gratitude. There's nothing significant about shoes with Arabs, it was an act made by Zaidi, which caught up in the world because of its significance, and that's it!! Please, if you want to write about this shoe-phenomenon, include it in a study of popular culture and not of classical Arabic culture.

Mubarak Gone! First chinks in the last and greatest Caucasian empire seen! America on the retreat, in spite of the nuclear ability to destroy all mankind. What, exactly, are we witnessing here? Ia this the beginning of and avalanche? The death of the American Dollar? The end of the corporatist, capitalist stranglehold on the world's poor? Has the Evil Empire been exposed?

Bush believed he's get flowers thrown at his feet, instead he took a shoe to the head.

He deserved it.

We could use a custom like that here, I'd love to throw my shoes at Sara Palin.

you look like a little racist

I just read a similar article that was an interesting take on this same topic of shoes and what it means in the middle east. Here it is....

They look like little monkeys

Ask George W. Bush...He knows


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