NOTE: BagNewsNotes is now located at Please update your bookmarks.

You will be automatically redirected in a few seconds...

« Your Turn (With Gratitude) | Main | Iraqi Poster Wars: No Longer Just A Metaphor »

Dec 06, 2005

Iraq Parliamentary Elections: Allawi Gets The Boot







Somehow, it seems Ayad Allawi is shaping up (at least here at The BAG) as the anti-hero of the Iraqi election.

In my previous Iraq post, I touched on evidence that Allawi had received generous covert campaign support from the U.S. and Britain.  The way CNN played the incident at the shrine of Imam Ali in Najaf on Sunday, you would think the media was also lending a hand.

Following Allawi's face saving rationalization, the CNN story plays up the candidates claim that he was the victim of an assassination attempt.  Most other accounts, however, indicate that Allawi was chased out of the shrine purely on the basis of unpopularity.

If you recall, Najaf is the home base of Moktada al-Sadr, now a coalition partner in the main Shi'ite electoral slate, the United Iraqi Alliance. Also, Najaf was the scene of a military standoff in August 2004 between U.S. troops and al-Sadr's militia. As the Prime Minister at the time, Allawi, a secular Shi'ite (and ex-C.I.A. operative) stood solidly behind the U.S. effort.

It may have been because he interrupted a funeral. (In the third shot from the top, you can see a casket being led out the entrance with Allawi's contingent just beyond.) The yellow circles in the next two shots are not thought bubbles. They are evidentiary circles drawn to point out how Allawi and company were run off in a hail of shoes.

I guess Allawi's Ba'athist past doesn't make him the most popular guy in more religious Shi'ite strongholds. Many cultures have unique rituals of social denunciation. In Iraq, as I'm told, the throwing of shoes is the single worst insult that a person can make.

(images: CNN video. December 4, 2005.  Najaf, Iraq.


Yes, it's an insult (In American too, right?), but it's so much fun to see him being humiliated like that!!

I saw the video, and here is some info, first, cameras were not allowed get in, someone was telling the guards (??) that it was light and isn't worth it but he wasn't allowed to get it in, and during the discussion, I got lost in translation because of the noise!
Shoes can not be mistaken as bullets, can they?

But I bet the camera-man got really scared, I mean, it is obvious that he got into the car, drove away (Or got driven away) and was hardly breathing.. The police are the ones who shot, I'd say, I'm not completely sure, but that's the way they deal with disorder here!

From the first few shots though, you can see a big camera, I wonder whose it was?

I wish there is a blogger from Najaf!!!

I saw the footage and he got chased out by a rain of sandles (I would estimate you can see 12 - 20 sandles in the video just as they turn that corner). There were reports of gunfire, but no idea where it came from (the bodyguards or the crowd). I doubt the gunfire a bit since in a crowd like that I find it hard to believe no one was hit.

Perhaps this was coordinated by Saddam (just kidding here), as he was going on about how he does not fear execution, and that it is nothing compared to the Arab boot/sandle or the sole of the the Iraqi sandle - something to that effect. Essentially that he would face death, but that he will become a hero (that being said I am sure there are plenty of people belting the few posters that are left of him with their sandle...even without the people that psy-ops hire to do it).

I must say Allowi turned tail and ran quick (as he should have), and in doing so did appear feeble.

I guess we know why Bush preferes to live in a small bubble of supporters and wear his emperor's cloths.

After a bunch of Googling, I am still somewhat in the dark as to why throwing a shoe is an insult.

I know that showing the sole of the foot is offensive, but why? Does it have to do with modesty and humility?

I imagine getting sh*itcanned with a boot can hurt like hell and it would be pretty gross if said boot were covered with barnyard detritus, but I'm just making stuff up off the top of my head here. Anyone with this information out there?

I guess this "incident" puts a new spin on the phrase "running for office!" If Allawi had any sense he would run FROM office rather than for it.

See Allawi...

See Allawi run...


It explains why Bush/Cheney make it a point to speak in front of pre-screened audiences. Will the Republican party add a "no shoe throwing" clause to their loyalty oaths?

----I know that showing the sole of the foot is offensive, but why? Does it have to do with modesty and humility?---

Because it's nasty. What's there to get? If you aren't stepping on crap you are sweating in your shoes getting populated by bacterial. Keep them to yourself.

momly, have you checked ?

"These people have saved for years to come to Hajj so they take the instruction to slay the Devil literally and throw sandals, shoes, umbrellas, almost anything they can get their hands on." (or google throw sandals)

I'm grateful to Najma for her view from Mosul. I hope we will hear more from her as the Iraqi election poster series continues.

How can anyone not be insulted by a shoe being thrown at him? I mean, it's a common way of hitting nasty kids too (Not that I've been hit at anytime, but some say that every Iraqi boy has been hit at least once by a sandal!!).
Throwing Tomato at anyone is an insult, shoes are even worse.

This might have happened, but sandals have nothing to do with what Hajjis do.. They're only supposed to throw 7 small stones, not anything else, it's just a symbolic action.

Will try to :)

From a BBC article (

Decoding Iraq's symbols of celebration

There was rich symbolism in the way Iraqis celebrated the fall of Baghdad — some hurled shoes while others brandished small clay discs. What do these actions and symbols represent?
(Photo caption: The shoe equates the person with the dirt people step on)

The whereabouts of the man himself may be a mystery, but locals vented their anger at Saddam Hussein by attacking effigies of the man — with their shoes. The imagery is strong — shoes are a symbol of "dirt and degradation" in the Arab world, says Professor Faleh Jabar, a writer on Iraqi culture.

"Going into someone's house or a mosque, you would always take your shoes off first. Shoes are used to beat servants, thieves, prostitutes; it indicates servility. Were you to beat your children, this would be done with a stick or the hand, but never shoes."

So Allawi is more than just "unpopular."

Well, sure having anything thrown at you is an insult, but all the news stories said was "this is a grave insult" and sorta left it hanging there. I don't know enough about Muslim culture to know if this is some specific thing like eating with only the right hand. I guess I was looking for too fine a definition. My bad.

Momly, I've lived in the Middle East for 14 years, and I'm still puzzled when I hear about this. I've heard stories of foreigners sitting in airport waiting rooms and crossing their legs and accidentally having the sole of their foot pointing at someone across from them, and the person getting furious. But I really haven't seen this, and whenever I hear one of these stories, I kind of watch people around me, and I don't see anyone paying any attention if this happens. Of course, different areas might have different customs.

As someone said, though, no one anywhere would enjoy having shoes thrown at them. And in this region, shoes are always removed before entering a mosque, and normally when entering someone's residence, because it's recognized that they carry the dirt and whatever else from outside.

In any case, it's usually described as an Arab thing and not necessarily Muslim. I don't know whether non-Muslim Arabs feel the same way or not. (Or non-Arab Muslims...)

As Najma already pointed out, that ritual at the Hajj is a symbolic ritual which involves throwing seven small pebbles. If some peopple do throw sandals, they're a small minority of the 3 million who make the Hajj every year. Unfortunately, with all of these people from every corner of the earth, speaking so many different languages, etc., you have some people who don't know the right way to perform the rituals.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

My Other Accounts

Blog powered by TypePad
Member since 07/2003