- Report: Shoes strike banner instead of Ahmadinejahd
- Website says incident happened in northern Iranian city of Sari
- Man says he has not received jobless benefits in more than a year, site says
- Iraqi journalist threw shoes at President George W. Bush in Iraq in 2008
A 45-year-old textile worker who has been out of work for a year threw his shoes Monday at Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to protest not having received unemployment benefits, an Iranian website reported.
He missed, striking a banner behind the president instead, said Ghased News, an unofficial website. CNN has not been able to confirm the report independently.
Ghased News said the incident occurred in the northern city of Sari during a memorial ceremony for a former oil minister who died last year.
Attendees beat the man until security forces intervened, the site reported. The man had been fired from his job at a weaving factory and said he had not received unemployment benefits for a year, it said.
Ghased News identified the man as Rashid S., a resident of Sari who was once jailed for throwing eggs and tomatoes at former President Mohammad Khatami.
The audience apologized to Ahmadinejad and chanted slogans in his support, Ghased News said.
Ahmadinejad's website, www.president.ir, posted a picture of the president at the event but made no mention of the flying footwear.
Throwing shoes is a sign of profound disrespect in Arab countries, but not in Iran. In December 2008, an Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at President George W. Bush during a news conference in Baghdad. He, too, missed. As he was pushed to the floor, the reporter shouted that his act was a "farewell kiss" to the "dog" who launched the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
The reporter, Muntadhar al-Zaidi, was released after nine months in jail.
Though many Iraqis hold Bush in low esteem, opinions were mixed in Iraq following the incident. Some viewed al-Zaidi as a hero, with thousands taking to the streets calling for his release; others said his act went against Arab traditions of honoring guests.
According to the CIA World Factbook, citing official government figures, Iran's unemployment rate last year was 13.2%. But many Iranians believe the true figure to be much higher.