Protester throws shoe at Jordanian prime minister

Jordanian Prime Minister is target of shoe attacks, resembling a similar incident with Hillary Clinton in April and previous incidents involving George Bush and Tony Blair

Shoes have often been used as offensive symbols in the Middle East and elsewhere (AFP)
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Thursday 12 February 2015 8:45 UTC
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A Jordanian citizen on Monday hurled his shoe at Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour during a public meeting in the northern Jerash province, a local official said.

Jordanian security quickly seized the television cameras covering the event to prevent footage of the incident from being broadcast.

"Ensour went to Jerash to inaugurate a transport facility and held a meeting with locals at the provincial headquarters, which turned into chaos after several citizens were prevented from asking the prime minister questions," the local official told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity. 

The situation prompted one Jordanian citizen at the event to throw his shoe at Ensour, according to the official.

Security forces arrested the perpetrator while Ensour quickly left the meeting venue, the official said.

Amid growing unemployment and poverty, Jordanians have held street protests to demand sweeping political and economic reforms as well as tougher anti-corruption efforts.

"The prime minister was talking about the economy, when Mefleh Mahasneh, 65, head of the Jerash countryside society that was attending the event, stood up and told the prime minister: 'You raised the prices'," the municipality official told AFP.

"The mayor told Mahasneh to stop because it was not his turn to talk. Mahasneh, an army retiree, got angry and took off his shoe and threw it towards the stage on which the prime minister and the ministers were sitting."

He said Mahasneh then took off his other shoe and threw it in the same direction.

"The pair of shoes landed on a table on the stage. Police arrested Mahasneh," the official said, adding that he did not think he would be charged.

"I think he was detained for his own protection because some attendees threatened to take action against him," he said without elaborating.

In November 2012, the government raised fuel prices, including household gas, by up to 53 percent to help reduce a massive government deficit of 3.5 billion dinars (around $5 billion dollars), sparking a wave of violent nationwide protests as well as strikes.

Shoe-related attacks have been on the rise, with Hillary Clinton narrowly dodging the footwear while talking on stage in Las Vegas

The woman launched the projectile at the 66-year-old former First Lady as she was addressing a meeting of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI).

Clinton, the presumed frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, ducked as the object whizzed past at head height to the left of her.

"What was that, a bat?... Is that somebody throwing something at me?" Clinton said initially at the event at the Mandalay Bay hotel/casino, according to video footage by the local KTNV station.

The incidents have been reminiscent of past shoe-based violence targetted at senior government officials.

In 2010, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair was pelted with eggs and shoes while attending a book signing in Dublin. Four men were arrested and charged with public order offences while taking part in the protest at Eason's bookshop on O'Connell Street in Dublin, Ireland.

In 2008, former American President George W. Bush had a shoe thrown at him by Iraqi broadcast journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi, who shouted "This is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog!" while hurling both of his shoes at the President.

When asked about the incident by another journalist Bush dismissed the seriousness of the incident: "It's a way for people to draw attention. I don't know what the guy's cause was. I didn't feel the least bit threatened by it." A Saudi businessmen later offered $10m for al-Zaidi's shoes.