The XX Factor

Closetful of Resistance

A newly published paper in the journal Media, War, and Conflict dissects “the art of shoe-throwing” in light of George Bush’s December near-encounter with the liberated footwear of an Iraqi journalist. Though the political significance of shoes predates the incident-statues of Saddam were so pelted back in 2003-the University of Brighton’s Yasmin Ibrahim argues that Bush helped set off a wave of loafer-related uprisings:

Since the shoe-throwing incident, the shoe has become a symbol of resistance amongst the Iraqi people. Reportedly, protesters were chanting ‘Bush, Bush, listen well: two shoes on your head,’ whilst in Najaf some protesters reportedly threw their shoes at an American patrol as it passed by. … In recent protests against Israel’s military offensive against Gaza, protestors threw more than 1,000 pairs of shoes at the entrance to Downing Street. Organizers of the protest had initially wanted to leave the shoes at the gates of Downing Street as a Muslim symbol of disgust at the attacks but when they were prevented from doing so, protestors began throwing their footwear, mimicking the shoe-throwing incident in Iraq. Similarly, Cypriots have protested against Israel by throwing various objects including shoes near the Israeli embassy in Nicosia.

Ibrahim reports that the manufacturers of the shoe thrown at Bush subsequently renamed the model the “Bush shoe” and “dramatically” increased sales with the rebranding.

Photograph of shoes by Ciana Griffin/Getty Images.