Afghans in my office told me today over lunch, with barely suppressed glee, how the shoes thrown at Bush last week, have been bought by an Arab business man for $5million USD. The starting offer was $1million, but so popular were the shoes that a bidding war erupted. And how in Iraq, that brand of shoe is now unavailable in the bazaar: they have all been snapped up, as a symbol both of solidarity with the shoe-thrower, and as personal political statement about the US President. My staff went on to say how the assailant has been sentenced to three years in jail. They weren’t exactly grieving this, but you could see they thought it excessive. There is considerable sympathy for that Arab journalist and support for what he did. Here in Afghanistan, the shoe-throwing has become a staple joke in local TV and radio.
The irrefutable truth is that the journalist expressed what many Iraqis feel. But he captured the feelings of many Arabs, and many Muslims worldwide. I’d like to think that rather than laughing it off as the actions of one disappointed man, Bush and his team might see that incident for what is was: the tip of an iceberg.