Shoe-thrower attacks IMF chief

A protester threw a shoe at the IMF's managing director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, as he made a speech to university students in Istanbul ahead of the annual meetings between the IMF and World Bank next week.


AFP - A protestor on Thursday threw a shoe at IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn during a speech to university students in Turkey's biggest city Istanbul, but missed him.

The protestor, a young man dressed in jeans, a T-shirt and a sleeveless jacket, shouted "IMF, Get out of Turkey!" as he ran towards the stage and threw the white sports shoe which fell about a metre (yard) in front of Strauss-Kahn, an AFP correspondent witnessed.

The shoe-throwing tactic was famously first used in Iraq last year against US President George W. Bush and there have been several copycat protests since.

The protestor was immediately overpowered and escorted out by security guards.

The International Monetary Fund head, who was answering questions at the end of his speech, remained calm thoughout the incident.

As the shoe-thrower was being taken out of the conference hall at Bilgi University, another protestor attempted to unfurl a banner, but was also quickly overpowered by security guards.

Both protestors were taken into police custody, the Anatolia news agency said.

Several people in the conference hall stood up as Strauss-Kahn was leaving, applauding and shouting slogans denouncing the IMF and its "collusion" with the Turkish government which has been negotiating for a fresh loan since last year.

A group of 15 protestors demonstrating outside the university campus, chanting "IMF thief! IMF creates wars and makes people poor" were also detained, Anatolia said.

In remarks to reporters after the incident, IMF spokeswoman Caroline Atkinson gave an ironic reaction to the protest.

"The managing director noted that the students were at least polite enough to wait until the end of the discussion," she said. "The IMF needs to speak to people and listen to people even if not everyone agrees with us."

Media reports identified the shoe-thrower as Selcuk Ozbek, a student of a university in Eskisehir, western Turkey, who also works as an editor at the left-leaning Birgun newspaper.

Turkish Interior Minister Besir Atalay said Ozbek had gained entrance to Strauss-Kahn's conference as a member of the press and said he deeply regretted the incident.

"It was excessive. The IMF chief and delegation did not make a big deal out of it, but for us, it was upsetting," Atalay was quoted by Anatolia as saying.

"When Turkey is hosting such a big meeting, we need to be good hosts and make sure the meetings go well."

Strauss-Kahn is in Istanbul ahead of the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank next week.

Several Turkish left-wing groups and anti-globalization activists have called for protests in the run-up and during the meetings.

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