Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

What’s the Deal with the Shoes?

I apologize if this is a revelation only to me. When I first saw footage of a happy Iraqi man slapping a poster of Saddam with his shoe, I thought he did so only because it was handy. When I later saw crowds in Bagdad doing it, I got curious. It turns out that showing the soles of one’s feet to another is one of the most powerful Arab insults and a sign of serious contempt.

Discussions - 5 Comments

Does this help us explain the intended tactic of Richard Reid, the so-called "shoe bomber"?

Of all the delightful scenes in Baghdad yesterday, the one that delighted me the most was the sight of a young boy running barefooted behind the head of Saddam’s statue as it was being dragged down the street, all the while smacking it with both his shoes. :)

Yes, this is true. I remember being told - at some point - that exposing the sole of your show is considered a major insult in that culture. I guess it’s one of those useless trivia tidbits that comes in handy once in a great while.

Perhaps Schramm should introduce a shoe icon to the blog for articles/commentary which he feels are without merit. Coffee good, shoes bad.

Your post reminded me of a story from years ago about the mosaic Saddam had installed in either a palace or hotel that was a picture of 1st president Bush so he could walk over Bush’s face. It must have involved the same principle.

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