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.” (Read more insult stories.)