This is going to be all over the place by tonight.
George Bush, in his farewell appearance in Iraq, was gifted a unique insult by an Iraqi journalist. The journalist, Muntazer al-Zaidi, threw both of his shoes at the outgoing American president, saying ‘This is the farewell kiss, you dog!’ Unfortunately, he was aiming a little high. Next time, if he wants greater accuracy, Mr al-Zaidi should take off both his shoes before he throws the first one.
Showing someone the soles of your shoes is a taboo in Arab culture. But it’s not unique, and probably not the ‘ultimate insult‘ that most western news sources are saying it is. Buddhism has a similar practice. When you’re kneeling before Buddha or a monk, your feet should not be facing towards them.
Bush’s reaction was typical of his level of respect for other people’s feelings. He made a joke of it, saying: “It doesn’t bother me. If you want the facts, it was a size 10 shoe that he threw.”
Janurary 20, 2009, cannot come soon enough.