Monday, 15 December 2008

Iraqi Journalist Threw His Shoes at President Bush at Press Conference, and Was Called a Hero by Iraqis

Read here article by Waleed Ibrahim in Reuters Newswire

Iraqi TV-Reporter Threw His Shoes at President Bush
at the Press Conference in Baghdad


The Iraqi Shi'ite TV reporter, Muntazer al-Zaidi, threw his shoes at U.S. President George W. Bush at a press conference in Baghdad was hailed by Iraqi marchers as a national hero.

Iraqi Government called him a barbarian.

Throwing shoes at someone is the worst possible insult in the Arab world.

President Bush was in a news conference together with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki during a farewell visit to Baghdad on Sunday.

Zaidi shouted "this is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, dog," at Bush. Then he flung one shoe at Bush, forcing him to duck, followed by another, which sailed over Bush's head and slammed into the wall behind him.

Al-Baghdadiya television played endless patriotic music, with Zaidi's face plastered across the screen. A newscaster solemnly read out a statement calling for his release, "in accordance with the democratic era and the freedom of expression that Iraqis were promised by U.S. authorities."

"It was the throw of the century. I believe Bush deserves what happened to him because he has not kept his promises to Iraqis," said Baghdad resident Abu Hussein, 48.

"Al-Zaidi's shoe is the most famous shoe in the whole world," said Fawzi Akram, a Turkman lawmaker loyal to anti-American Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

"Thanks be to God, Muntazer's act fills Iraqi hearts with pride. I'm sure many Iraqis want to do what Muntazer did. Muntazer used to say all the orphans whose fathers were killed are because of Bush, " his brother, Udai al-Zaidi, told Reuters Television.

Parliamentary reaction was mixed, with some saying Zaidi chose the wrong venue for his protest. Others cheered.

At a university in Baghdad, students appeared to abandon routine classes to talk about Zaidi and his shoe-throwing.

Colleagues of Zaidi say he resented President Bush, blaming him for the bloodshed that ravaged Iraq after the invasion although it did not appear that he had lost any close family members during the sectarian killings and insurgency.

Zaidi was dragged struggling and screaming from the room by security guards and could be heard shouting outside while the news conference continued after momentary mayhem.

The government said Zaidi had carried out "a barbaric and ignominious act" that was not fitting of the media's role and demanded an apology from his television station.

In Baghdad's Sadr City, a few thousand Sadr supporters staged an anti-Bush march and demanded his immediate release. Sadrists also rallied in Basra, the southern city that controls Iraq's oil exports, and in Najaf.

In Najaf, demonstrators threw shoes at a passing American convoy and called Bush "cow."

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