Shops in a Kurdish region of northern Iraq have been selling shoes with a Christian cross embossed on the sole, allowing wearers to “trample the cross,” according to the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA).
Drawing on a story recently published on the Polish website Szlomo, AINA reports that Kurdish authorities have allowed the “anti-Christian shoes” to be sold in north Iraq, including a shopping center in Erbil called Mega Mall where the footwear was on display in store windows prior to Christmas.
The footwear is reportedly produced by a Turkish company called FLO, located in Gaziantep, in southeastern Turkey.
The article suggests that the footwear is intentionally provocative toward Christians, since in Muslim culture, shoes are generally perceived as “despised garments” and in Islam, one of the most offensive slurs is to call someone a “shoe.”
When Muslims enter the room, they ordinarily remove their shoes, the article states, and if a shoe is accidentally turned over, the person will spit on the sole of the shoe and place it back face-up. Having a cross embossed into the sole means that in such a situation, the cross will be spat upon.
The local Assyrian Christian population has protested the sale of the shoes, and in response the Kurdish authorities “demonstratively” withdrew the shoes from one store “in front of cameras of foreign correspondents,” while allowing them to be sold in others where westerners do not shop, AINA reports.