SCOTLAND YARD has bowed to Islamic sensitivities and accepted that Muslims are entitled to throw shoes in ritual protest — which could have the unintended consequence of politicians or the police being hit.I don't know much about the history of the shoe being used by Muslims in ritual protest, but I have read about the more traditional form of demonstrating Muslim disapproval. In Jews and Arabs: Their Contacts Through the Ages, S. D. Goitein wrote in 1955:
News of the concession by the Metropolitan police has come to light amid a series of trials of more than 70 mostly Muslim demonstrators who were charged with violent disorder after last year’s Gaza protests outside the Israeli embassy in London.
Ironically, the rock-throwing that pro-Palestinian apologists glamorize as the sole recourse of Palestinian Arabs against the superior might of Israel has its source in the traditional--and legal--practice of throwing rocks at Jews in general.
In former times--and in remote places even today--it was common for Muslim schoolboys to stone Jews. When the Turks conquered Yemen in 1872, an envoy was sent from the Chief Rabbi of Istanbul to inquire what grievance the Yemenite Jews had against their neighbors. It is indicative that the first thing of which they complained was this molestation by the schoolboys. But when the Turkish Governor asked an assembly of notables to stop this nuisance, there arose an old doctor of Muslim law and explained that this stone-throwing at Jews was an age-old custom (in Arabic 'Ada) and therefore it was unlawful to forbid it. [p. 76]
Meanwhile, the generous understanding of the British legal system reaches up to the courts themselves:
Judge Denniss agreed that the act of shoe-throwing should not be considered in a charge of violent disorder against the student because it was “a symbolic” political gesture.This of course raises a question: if shoes are so ritually unclean, just how are these people holding these shoes so as not to 'contaminate' themselves?
Shoes, and particularly the soles of shoes, are regarded as ritually unclean in the Islamic world. An Iraqi journalist became a folk hero for throwing a shoe at President George W Bush during a press conference in December 2008.
In any case, shoe-throwing has become so popular that--as one might have expected:
Dozens of ski-boots and clogs were also hurled at the US consulate in Edinburgh in a related protest, in which three policemen sustained minor injuries.No word that people getting hurt has caused anyone to change their mind about throwing shoes though. How is it that the law can get so twisted as to respect the sensitivities of the people who are the least sensitive of the rights of others?
Technorati Tag: Shoe-Throwing and Islam and Rock-Throwing.