Few people would think that a journalist could sell shoes. After all their job is to sell newspapers. However in this case, all it takes is being in the right place at the right time, with the right target.
ISTANBUL (AFP) – The maker of the shoes that an Iraqi journalist hurled at US President George W. Bush has had to take on 100 extra staff to cope with a surge in demand for his footwear, he said on Monday.
“Between the day of the incident and 1:00 pm today we have received orders totalling 370,000 pairs”, Istanbul-based Serkan Turk, head of sales at Baydan Shoes, told AFP.
Normally the firm sold only 15,000 pairs a year of the model that Muntazer al-Zaidi threw at the US president at a press conference in Baghdad on December 14 to become an instant hero across the Arab world, he said.
Turk said orders had initially flooded in from Iraq, followed by other Middle East countries and finally from the rest of the world, including for 19,000 pairs from the United States.
Formerly prosaically dubbed Model 271, the black polyurethane-soled shoes have been renamed Bush Shoes, he said.
Turk insisted the company was not profiting from the soaring demand to up the factory price from the 27 dollars (19.30 euros) it had been charging, while adding that it was “delighted from all points of view” at its unexpected success.
Throwing shoes is considered a grave insult in the Arab world, but Turk indicated that they would probably not have done Bush much harm had they hit him.
“They look heavier than they are,” he said. “They only weigh 300 grammes (10 ounces).”
Zaidi, 29, has been charged with “aggression against a foreign head of state during an official visit,” an offence that carries a prison term of between five and 15 years under Iraqi law.
He is to go on trial on December 31, an investigating judge said Monday, rejecting allegations by the journalist’s family that he had been tortured in custody.