Shoe-Throw Is Arab World's Heartiest Insult

Journo's sole assault on Bush would likely have meant death under Saddam
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2008 1:05 PM CST

(Newser) – Throwing a shoe at someone is hardly a positive gesture anywhere, but in Arab and Islamic countries, footwear is viewed as ritually unclean: Even mentioning your shoes while insulting someone carries vile significance, the BBC reports. Accidentally displaying an exposed sole is also considered insulting, so yesterday’s loafer-launching aimed at President Bush really was the worst journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi could muster.

The Bushes have had run-ins with this particular taboo before: A floor mosaic of the first President Bush at a Baathist VIP hotel invited guests to rub their soles on the then-president’s face. Recently, posters of President George W. Bush in Arab cities have been decorated with footprints, while Condoleezza Rice has been given the unfortunate nickname of Kundara, meaning “shoe.”