I’m sure you’ve heard of this already but I cannot resist the desire to post this to my blog. An Iraqi journalist was wrestled to the floor by security guards after calling George Bush “a dog” and throwing his shoes, barely missing the president in the middle of the news conference with Mr Maliki.
Iraqi television journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi stood up and yelled “this is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, dog,” before hurling a shoe at Mr Bush which narrowly missed him. Showing the soles of shoes to someone is a sign of contempt in Arab culture.
With his second shoe, which the president also managed to dodge, Mr Zaidi said: “This is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq.”
View the rest of the story and video after the jump…
Mr Zaidi, who is a correspondent for Al-Baghdadia television, an Iraqi-owned station based in Cairo, Egypt., was then wrestled to the ground by security personnel and hauled away. “If you want the facts, it’s a size 10 shoe that he threw,” Mr Bush joked afterwards.
Bush told reporters later that he didn’t think “you can take one guy throwing shoes and say this represents a broad movement in Iraq. You can try to do that if you want but I don’t think that would be accurate.”
Talking to a small group of reporters after the incident, Bush said, “I didn’t know what the guy said, but I saw his sole.” He told the reporters that “you were more concerned than I was. I was watching your faces.”
“I’m pretty good at ducking, as most of you know,” Bush joked, adding quickly that “I’m talking about ducking your questions.”
Reaction in Iraq was swift but mixed, the Iraqi government condemned the act and demanded an on-air apology from Al-Baghdadia television, the Iraqi-owned station that employs Muntadar al-Zeidi and also with some condemning the act and others applauding it. Television news stations throughout Iraq repeatedly showed footage of the incident, and newspapers carried headline stories. In Baghdad’s Shiite slum of Sadr City, supporters of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called for protests against Bush and demanded the release of the reporter. Thousands took to the streets Monday, chanting, “Bush, Bush, listen well: Two shoes on your head.”
Correspondents said the attack was symbolic. In Iraqi culture, throwing shoes at someone is a sign of contempt. Iraqis whacked a statue of Saddam with their shoes after U.S. Marines toppled it to the ground following the 2003 invasion. Several people descended on the man immediately after, wrestling him to the ground, and it took a minute or two for security agents to clear the crowd and start hauling him out. As they dragged him off, he was moaning and screaming as if in pain. Later, a large blood trail could be seen on the carpet where he was dragged out of the room. He was taken into custody and reportedly was being held for questioning by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki‘s guards and is being tested for alcohol and drugs.
Obviously Bush isn’t as old and rusty as some of you may think although I’m sure the president will not be fond of the number 10 any longer. I say let’s start a campaign to make this man the official spokesperson for Footaction Shoe Stores… why not? Wonder what Muntadar’s penalties will be… Any comments?
Iraqi authorities sent the case to the Central Criminal Court of Iraq, which handles security and terrorism cases. An investigative judge will review the evidence and decide whether al-Zaidi should stand trial which could take months. Iraq officials have recommended charging him with insulting a foreign leader, a charge which carries a maximum sentence of two years imprisonment or a small fine, however, investigative judges have sweeping powers under Iraqi law to amend and add charges — or even dismiss the case. If the judge finds enough evidence to warrant prosecution, a judicial panel will appoint three judges to hear the case and set a trial date.