Ramazan Baydan, owner of the Istanbul-based Baydan Shoe Company, has been swamped with orders from across the world, after insisting that his company produced the black leather shoes which the Iraqi journalist Muntazar al-Zaidi threw at Bush during a press conference in Baghdad last Sunday.
Baydan has recruited an extra 100 staff to meet orders for 300,000 pairs of Model 271 – more than four times the shoe’s normal annual sale – following an outpouring of support for Zaidi’s act, which was intended as a protest, but led to his arrest by Iraqi security forces.
Orders have come mainly from the US and Britain, and from neighbouring Muslim countries, he said.
Around 120,000 pairs have been ordered from Iraq, while a US company has placed a request for 18,000. A British firm is understood to have offered to serve as European distributor for the shoes, which have been on the market since 1999 and sell at around £28 in Turkey. A sharp rise in orders has been recorded in Syria, Egypt and Iran, where the main shoemaker’s federation has offered to provide Zaidi and his family with a lifetime’s supply of shoes.
To meet the mood of the marketplace, Baydan is planning to rename the model “the Bush Shoe” or “Bye-Bye Bush”.
“We’ve been selling these shoes for years but, thanks to Bush, orders are flying in like crazy. We’ve even hired an agency to look at television advertising,” he said.
Zaidi has been in custody since the shoe-throwing incident, amid claims that he has been badly beaten. He faces a possible jail sentence for insulting a foreign leader, but has reportedly apologised and requested a pardon from Iraq’s prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.