Palestinian stamps Trump, Macron on shoes in censure

Palestinian stamps Trump, Macron's name on shoes in disapproval

This week the shoemaker embarked on a new project fuelled by Muslim anger over Macron's defence of the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed

A pair of women's handcrafted shoes stamped with the name of the French President in Arabic calligraphy. Credit: AFP Photo

Palestinian shoemaker Imad Mohammad makes handcrafted footwear with a difference: They are stamped with the names of the US and French presidents in Arabic calligraphy to show his disapproval of them.

"Shoes touch the ground, dust and dirt. So if we write someone's name on them and that also gets dirty, then it shows... how you value that person," Mohammad told AFP.

He said he chose to stamp the name of US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron on the shoes he crafts because they "assaulted our people".

Initially, the moustachioed shoemaker, who has a shop in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, launched a line dedicated to Trump.

That was after Trump moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May 2018, putting the United States at odds with the international community.

Trump's move, a year after he recognised the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, infuriated the Palestinians who hope to have their own state and Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem as its capital.

The shoes bearing the US president's name cost 200 shekels (about $50) and are made of "genuine leather inside and outside, and are more genuine than him," said Mohammad.

This week the shoemaker embarked on a new project fuelled by Muslim anger over Macron's defence of the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed on free speech grounds.

"Why, Macron, did you attack a prophet who died 1,500 years ago?" said Mohammad, who accused the French leader of seeking to "insult Muslims".

"And I, as a Muslim, reject this contempt and reject this offence," he added, demanding an apology from Macron.

"The apology is for my people because the insult was against my people... and my Islamic nation," he said.

Any US and French clients who enter the Ramallah shop are greeted with signs demanding they too apologise for the words and deeds of their presidents.

The French are told they can only enter if they apologise for Macron's statements.

American customers are asked to seek forgiveness for Trump's recognition of Jerusalem and the embassy move.

But Mohammad said he is willing to remove that last poster should Trump challenger Joe Biden win Tuesday's US presidential election and "rescind" Trump's policies.

"I will not remove the demand for an apology from the Americans unless America's decision (to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital) is cancelled.

"If Biden rescinds the decision, I will remove the sign and I will be happy," he said.