I first heard they were Mephistos…
A Turkish shoe firm says it has had to take on 100 extra staff to cope with a surge in orders after an Iraqi threw shoes at US President Bush.
Istanbul-based Baydan Shoes claims it made the shoes and says it now has tens of thousands of orders from around the world – including from the US and Iraq.
The shoe was called Model 271 but has been renamed Bush shoe, the firm said.
However, the brother of shoe-throwing journalist Muntader al-Zaidi says he believes the shoes were Iraqi-made.
Durgham al-Zaidi criticised people he said were trying to exploit his brother’s actions for commercial gain.
“The Syrians claim the shoes were made in Syria and the Turks say they made them. Some say he bought them in Egypt. But as far as I know, he bought them in Baghdad and they were made in Iraq,” he told the AFP news agency.
It is difficult to verify exactly where the shoe is from as Mr Zaidi has not been seen in public since the incident eight days ago, and the judge in the case says the shoes were destroyed during security checks.
But Oner Bogatekin, Baydan Shoes’ export representative, said the staff recognised their handiwork from the news reports.
“We saw it on videos and also in newspapers. We have been producing this shoe for 10 years, so know it very well and we can recognise them anywhere,” he told the BBC.
He said there had been a four-fold interest in the shoe – now dubbed Bush shoes or Bye Bye Bush shoes – and had to take on 100 extra workers to cope with the demand.
According to the shop’s owner, Ramazan Baydan, a US firm has ordered 18,000 pairs, a further 15,000 pairs are destined for Iraq and a British distributor has asked to be the firm’s European sales representative.
Mr Bogatekin said the firm was pleased with the publicity it was getting, but insisted the shoes would not have done President Bush any serious harm.
“Actually, they are not heavy shoes so they wouldn’t hurt him,” he said.
Muntadar al-Zaidi has been hailed a hero by some for throwing his shoes at President Bush during the Baghdad news conference on 14 December. The action is seen as a grave insult in the Arab world.
He called Mr Bush a “dog”, and said he was acting for “widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq”.
He is due to face trial on 31 December accused of “aggression against a foreign head of state”, which carries a jail sentence of up to 15 years.
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