What does this mean in Arab culture?

Yesterday, my brother told us about the now-infamous Shoe Attack that President Bush endured during his surprise (!) visit to Iraq. I didn’t believe it at first, because it’s quite surreal. I finally got around to checking it out, by of course going to YouTube. I can’t find the video I watched right now, because it’s been buried by about a hundred more of the same. But, what really got to me last night was when the MSNBC reporter said, “The American audience must be wondering, what do the shoes being thrown mean in Arabic culture? Well, it’s a severe insult.” I’m sitting there thinking, “Really? Only in Arabic culture is it an insult? So, if an American journalist did it to an American president, what would it be, just one big prank?” How about Indian culture? Or Pakistani? Do you think the Indian and Pakistani Prime Ministers would be baffled as to what shoes being hurled at them mean? Wouldn’t this be sort of a universal gesture of contempt? Geez.

Will journalist have to remove their shoes before entering press conferences, like the way Muslims have to remove our shoes at the airport?


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