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Ahmadinejad, Latest Leader Attacked With a Shoe


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad got a rude welcome in Cairo earlier this week during a visit to a mosque – when he became the latest world leader to be attacked with a shoe.

But he is not the first world leader to have a shoe hurled at his head.

U.S. President George W. Bush was giving a news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad in 2008 when he ducked as a shoe went past his head.

Security officials quickly subdued the attacker, identified as Muntadhar al-Zaidi, a correspondent for Al-Baghdadia television.

Later, Bush joked about the incident with reporters, saying "It doesn't bother me. If you want the facts: it's a size 10 shoe that he threw at me."

Hitting someone with the sole of your shoe has long been an insult in the Middle East but the Baghdad incident sent it viral, even inspiring an online game "SockAndAwe," which lets players throw brown laced-loafers at the president. Within days, the site said almost 20 million shoes had been tossed.

Demand for the shoes also jumped.

Turkish shoemaker Ramazan Baydan told Bloomberg news that less than a week after the incident he had received 300,000 orders for the $42 brown leather shoes with thick soles.

New shoe-throwing incidents followed.

Some U.S. anti-war protesters adopted the tactic, throwing shoes at posters of Bush during demonstrations in Washington while protesters in Tehran did likewise, throwing their shoes at an effigy of President Bush.

Others become targets.

In 2009, a student journalist in Istanbul hurled a shoe at then-International Monetary Fund (IMF) Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn. A year later, protesters in Indian-controlled Kashmir threw shoes at that region's top elected official, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.

Protesters have reveled in throwing shoes at posters or pictures, including those of numerous Middle Eastern leaders including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Last June, protesters in Cairo tossed shoes at guards outside the courthouse where former President Hosni Mubarak was standing trial.

At least one former world leader has tried to change the paradigm.

In video released by Ukraine's state prison agency last September, jailed former Prime Minister Julia Timoshenko was shown using her own shoe to hit the door of her cell in protest.

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