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Instructions

 

Move your pen/pencil under the line of text uniformly and let your eyes follow the movement of the pacer (pen/pencil) and answer the following questions with Yes or No.


Is Muntazer al-Zaidi, the Iraqi who hurled his Number 10 footwear at George W Bush during a press conference in Baghdad, a hero or a heel, in more ways than one? Opinion is sharply divided on this. On the one hand or rather, foot there are those who feel that al-Zaidi’s behaviour was totally unacceptable, breaching as it did the code of conduct for journalists who as opinion formers must stick to rules of parliamentary conduct in their professional lives. Conversely, the footloose, or shoe-loose, journo has been hailed as a champion by all those and there are many of them who feel that his was a robust and deserved retort-in-kind to Bush’s jackbooted militarist policy in Afghanistan, Iraq itself, and elsewhere.


The Baghdad authorities have taken a dim view of the episode and al-Zaidi who has in a letter to the Iraqi prime minister pleading for clemency described his no-soles-barred attack as an “ugly act” could face two years imprisonment for his outburst. However, an enthralled Egyptian father has offered his daughter’s hand in marriage to the feisty al-Zaidi, saying that he had nothing more valuable than his girl child to offer the barefoot guerrilla. Another admirer, a Saudi tycoon, had offered to buy the famous footwear for $10 million. Unfortunately, the sale could not take place as an embarrassed Iraqi officialdom had consigned the items in question to an incinerator.


While the jury remains out on whether al-Zaidi should eventually end up in the hall of fame or that of infamy, protocol officers and event managers of politicians and other public figures should put on their thinking caps to figure out ways and means to avoid or at least to minimize the impact of such incidents in future. All public rites and rituals marriages, funerals, birthday parties, press conferences are organized according to commonly accepted codes of behaviour. It is high time that the ritual of public protest so vital to democracy and the concept of a free society should have its own guide book of dos and do not; we need an etiquette of demonstrative dissent.


In this exercise, we might like to take a tip from the would-be novelist who, before a public reading of his latest work, went to the market and bought quantities of eggs and tomatoes which he distributed among the audience, explaining that if he were to be pelted for deficiencies in his prose he would prefer the missiles to be fresh and not old and foul-smelling. This would appear to be an eminently civilized way of ordering such encounters: the protester would have the satisfaction of lodging, or lobbing, his protest, and the protestee the person being protested against would have the option of choosing the ammunition of the protester. In this way, both parties could claim satisfaction.


In the al-Zaidi-Bush case, such mutual gratification cannot be ruled out. While in the Arab world, and indeed in the Indian subcontinent, footwear with its unclean, animal skin associations is considered a particularly offensive projectile to have hurled at oneself, in the rawhide Texan context of 10-gallon hats and cowboy boots that the exiting US president hails from, similar qualms of ritual pollution need not apply.


In Islamic and Indic traditions, footwear is removed before entering places of worship or even private houses. No such practice applies in the West, particularly in the fabled Wild West of which Dubya is in some ways an embodiment in which it was deemed an honour to have ‘died with one’s boots on’. Indeed, having ducked in time, the president did not seem particularly fazed by being targeted by jootis, and later remarked that he must think up some good shoe jokes for future reference.

Sound advice to all those who need to go public. Think of some good shoe jokes. Or good whatever-it-is-you-would-like-thrown-at-you jokes. And lay in stocks of your preferred tokens of protest to give to those who would protest against you. Eggs, tomatoes, chappals; the choice is yours.

 

Example

Baghdad authorities have welcomed al-Zaidi’s act. Yes/No

Solution

No, the passage authorities have taken a dim view of the episode.

 

Example

The shoe which was hurled was 9 in number. Yes/No

Solution

No, it was 10 in number.

 

Example

In Texas footwear is considered an offensive projectile.Yes/No

Solution

No, the passage says that it’s a part of the Texan culture where cowboys don leather apparel.

 

Example

In Islamic tradition, footwear is removed before entering private houses. Yes/No

Solution

Yes, given in the second last paragraph.

 

Example

A Saudi tycoon bought the famous footwear for $10 million. Yes/No

Solution

No, Saudi tycoon had only offered to buy the famous footwear, and the sale did not take place.





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