Video captured what appeared to be a man using a shoe to try and strike Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today as the Iranian president greeted a crowd in Egypt.
The video, uploaded to YouTube by the Anadolu Agency, a Turkish news service, shows Ahmadinejad in a crush of people smiling and shaking hands until a bearded man comes in the frame holding a shoe high over his head. The shoe comes down twice in Ahmadinejad’s direction, but too far from the Iranian leader to pose a threat.
Several men then turn on the shoe-brandishing attacker and Ahmadinejad is quickly hustled to a waiting car. Anadolu reported the man was Syrian and accused the Iranian president of “killing his brothers.” Iran has supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in that country’s ongoing, bloody civil war.
The episode was reminiscent of a December 2008 incident in which then-President George W. Bush famously dodged shoes thrown at him by a local television correspondent during his final visit to Baghdad.
“This is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog,” said Muntadhar al-Zaidi before throwing the shoes. Al-Zaidi was sentenced to prison for assaulting a foreign head of state but was released in September 2009.
In the Middle East it is traditionally considered highly insulting to hit someone with the bottom of a shoe, which is considered dirty.