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Swedish Ambassador to Iran Peter Tejler has pissed off Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with his fancy footwork.
Swedish Ambassador to Iran Peter Tejler nearly caused a diplomatic incident between Stockholm and Tehran last week, when he presented his letter of accreditation to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. His offense: Exposing the sole of his shoe.
The event, which is a routine diplomatic procedure, was proceeding according to plan until, as the two were seated, the ambassador decided to cross his legs. The act seemed to have insulted the Iranian president, causing him to flash the ambassador a retaliatory leg-crossing himself.
The incident did not go unnoticed by local media. “The ambassador’s actions are undiplomatic and impolite,” an Iranian website reported, adding that “Such behavior deviates from diplomatic and international norms.”
The incident occurred last Monday at the Iranian president’s Teheran office, when the Swedish ambassador placed his right leg over his left, revealing the sole of his right shoe.
In Islam, shoes, and especially their soles, are considered impure and even profane. Exposing one’s shoes or their soles before a high-ranking official is considered a great insult.
Update: If you could read minds, Ahmadinejad edition: