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Iran: Unpaid Worker Throws Shoe at President Ahmadinejad

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Iran, Citizen Media, Freedom of Speech, Governance, Human Rights, Politics, Protest

Several Iranian bloggers reacted with irony to the news that Mahmoud Ahamadinejad, Iran's president, became a target of an angry shoe thrower, during a speech in the northern city, Sari [1] on December 12, 2011.

The shoe-throwing former textile worker, identified as Rashid S. reportedly missed [2]his target, but attendees pounced on him and beat the man until security forces intervened. Iranian media tried to spin the event in a negative light, and claimed the same man had previously thrown objects at a former president. Meanwhile, bloggers tried to sort fact from fiction.

Cartoon: "The future of the presidency" [3]

"The future of the presidency" by Nikahang Kowsar, a leading Iranian cartoonist and blogger (Roozonline)

On Google Plus, Bahman Daroshafaei, quotes [4] [fa] a 16-year old witness who was sent by his school to hear Ahmadinejad's speech:

Contrary to the official version, the crowd did not beat the shoe thrower, only two or three beat him and police came and saved him. Iranian media did not report the whole story. In the middle of Ahmadinejad's speech, a group of textile workers walked in whose factory had been shut down without paying their salaries. They raised a banner and urged for their salary to be paid. The meeting was almost disrupted and finally the shoe thrower came onto the scene. People and workers chanted against Ahmadinejad, not for him.

In his blog, Afkar Mazyar writes [5][fa] that according to reports this worker had not been paid for a year, and security forces escorted him out immediately. The blogger adds:

Iran's media did not publish many details on this event but pro-government ones aim to present the shoe thrower's behavior as suspicious. These pro-government media aimed to degrade the protest action, and claimed that many attendees chanted slogans to support the president. They also wrote he had done the same thing [throwing objects] at a previous president, reformist Mohammad Khatami.

Azarak writes [6] [fa] that when Iranian authorities made the throwing of a shoe at President George W. Bush [7]by an Iraqi reporter in 2008, a top story, they did not imagine the same technique would ever be used against them. The blogger adds that Ahmadinejad's expensive trips to the country's provinces are justified as a means to address the problems of the poor, but that this action displays not only that these people's conditions did not improve, but that they are living in the worst situation ever.