Question from a reader
It amazes me that I still get comments on that one. It pleases me that this time it's not calling me a racist.
For future reference, if anyone wants to call me a racist, would you kindly explain first how "Muslim" or "Arab" can be reasonably defined as a race?
And while your at it, please define "race"?
Secondly, if you still want to call me a racist, please get in touch with me, so that we might arrange to discuss the matter further. In person.
So, the question:
"I was looking for an explanation as to why shoes are a weapon of choice for Arabs culturally, as with the example this past week of Zeidi the journalist hurling his pair at Bush in Iraq. I came across this instead, which I recall reading in a forward email awhile ago. The second read was well worth it for some insights.
As an Anthropologist, you don't have any explanations for me do you?"
Answer: Damned if I know.
The sole of the foot or shoe, is considered unclean in Arab culture. I've asked Arab friends about this and got explanations such as, it's dirty because you walk on it, it's farthest from God, etc.
When teaching in Saudi I had a few troublemaking students* who would find some excuse to raise their foot or put it on the table to show the sole.
Usually I said, "I know what that means."
Remember the first video reports from the capture of Baghdad? Remember all those Iraqis beating pictures of Saddam with their shoes?
I've read that in Japan striking someone with your shoe is a huge insult as well.
Do you remember videos of Nikita Khruschev at the UN beating the table with his shoe?
You've intrigued me. Now I'm beginning to wonder why we don't have that particular insult.
Any suggestions from the floor?
* I mean extreme troublemakers. Most of my, and other expat teachers', complaints about our students were that they were just not taking schooling seriously. They were getting paid 40 riyals per class to show up - and many tried often to get us to mark them present when they were absent.