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Dec 16th, 2008

In Mideast, Arabs Hail Shoe-Hurling Journalist

‘Bush, listen well: Two shoes on your head,’ Iraqi protesters chant

Image: Iraqis protest in Sadr City
A shoe is raised during a protest against President Bush’s visit and the detention of an Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at him, in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City in Baghdad, Iraq, on Monday, Dec. 15, 2008. (Photo credit: Karim Kadim / AP)

Dec. 15, 2008

BAGHDAD — Thousands of Iraqis took to the streets Monday to demand the release of a reporter who threw his shoes at President George W. Bush, as Arabs across many parts of the Middle East hailed the journalist as a hero and praised his insult as a proper send-off to the unpopular U.S. president. …

Journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi, a 28-year-old unmarried Shiite, was kidnapped by militants last year and, separately, detained briefly by the U.S. military prior to this incident — a story of getting hit from all sides that is bitterly familiar to many Iraqis. …

Could faces charges of insulting a foreign leader

He was held Monday in Iraqi custody for investigation and could face charges of insulting a foreign leader and the Iraqi prime minister, who was standing next to Bush.

Conviction carries a sentence of up to two years in prison or a small fine — although it’s unlikely he would face the maximum penalty given his newfound cult status in the Arab world. …

Showing the sole of your shoe to someone in the Arab world is a sign of extreme disrespect, and throwing your shoes is even worse.

Several thousand people demonstrated in Baghdad and other cities to demand the journalist’s release. The attack was the talk of the town in coffee shops, business offices and even schools — just as it was a subject across much of the Arab world. …

Family members expressed bewilderment over his action and concern about his treatment in Iraqi custody. But they also expressed pride over his defiance of an American president who many Iraqis believe has destroyed their country. …

‘The international day for shoes’

Newspapers across the Arab world on Monday printed front-page photos of Bush ducking the flying shoes, and satellite TV stations repeatedly aired the incident, which provided fodder for jokes and was hailed by the president’s many critics in the region.

“Iraq considers Sunday as the international day for shoes,” said a joking text message circulating around the Saudi capital Riyadh. …

Many users of the popular Internet networking site Facebook posted the video of the incident to their profile pages, showing al-Zeidi leap from his chair as Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki were about to shake hands Sunday and hurl his shoes at the president, who was about 20 feet away. Bush ducked the airborne footwear and was not injured in the incident.

“This is a farewell kiss, you dog,” al-Zeidi yelled in Arabic as he threw his shoes. “This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq.” …

Image: An Iraqi man throws a show at President George W. Bush during a news conference in Baghdad
President Bush ducked both shoes tossed at him. (Photo credit: Evan Vucci / AP)

Al-Zeidi’s tirade was echoed by Arabs across the Middle East who are fed up with U.S. policy in the region and still angry over Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003 to topple Saddam Hussein.

Praise on the Arab street

The response to the incident by Arabs in the street was ecstatic.

“Al-Zeidi is the man,” said 42-year-old Jordanian businessman Samer Tabalat. “He did what Arab leaders failed to do.”

Hoping to capitalize on this sentiment, al-Zeidi’s TV station, Al-Baghdadia, repeatedly aired pleas to release the reporter Monday, while showing footage of explosions and playing background music that denounced the U.S. in Iraq. …

Al-Jazeera television interviewed Saddam’s former chief lawyer Khalil al-Dulaimi, who offered to defend al-Zeidi, calling him a “hero.”

In Baghdad’s Shiite slum of Sadr City, thousands of supporters of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr burned American flags to protest against Bush and called for the release of al-Zeidi.

“Bush, Bush, listen well: Two shoes on your head,” the protesters chanted in unison.

In Najaf, a Shiite holy city, some protesters threw their shoes at an American patrol as it passed by. Witnesses said the American troops did not respond and continued on their patrol. …



Iraqi shoe-hurler injured, hospitalized
Journalist is said to have suffered broken arm

From ‘reckless’ to ‘proud,’ Iraqis respond to shoe-hurl
(NBC News World Blog by Karim Hilmi, Dec. 15, 2008)

Conflict in Iraq video

If the shoe hits … (MSNBC, Dec. 15, 2008) – Neither of the shoes thrown at President Bush during a press conference Sunday hit their mark, but the act itself continued to hit a nerve Monday, both in Iraq and in Washington. NBC’s Richard Engel reports. (03:33)


Afghan Reporters Keep Their Shoes On for Bush

Jokes abound after Iraqi journalist aims footwear at president

Image: Bush, Karzai
President Bush shakes hands with Afghan President Hamid Karzai after a joint press conference at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan on Monday, Dec. 15, 2008. (Photo credit: Musadeq Sadeq / AP)

Dec. 15, 2008

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Afghan journalists kept their shoes on.

A day after an Iraqi reporter hurled a pair of shoes at President George W. Bush, the American leader on Monday again held a news conference before a group of reporters from a country that the U.S. invaded under his watch.

Afghan reporters had gathered at the presidential palace in the capital, Kabul, at 6 a.m. on Monday for an 8 a.m. news conference by Bush and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

And that left plenty of time for shoe jokes.

Some of the reporters — a collegial bunch that sees one another several times a week — egged on one of their colleagues, jokingly trying to pressure the television reporter into taking off his shoe and hurling it once the U.S. president arrived.

The news conference later concluded with no footgear thrown.

Afghan officials, however, appeared concerned the press would not show sufficient respect to the American president.

Karzai’s deputy spokesman, Saimak Herwai, told Afghan reporters that they had to address Bush as “His Excellency,” an honorary title not typically used with U.S. presidents.

While one Afghan journalist did address Bush as “His Excellency,” another prominent television reporter disagreed with Herwai. And when that reporter got the chance to ask Bush a question, he pointedly said: “I have a question for Mr. President Bush.” …



Bomb in Downtown Baghdad Wounds 6

Dec. 16, 2008

BAGHDAD — Iraqi police say a bomb blast in central Baghdad has wounded three officers and three civilians.

Police officer Salam Mohammed says the bomb went off Tuesday morning, targeting a police patrol near Andalus Square in central Baghdad. …


Suicide Bomber Kills 5 Near Baghdad

Dec. 15, 2008

BAGHDAD — Iraqi police say a suicide truck bomber has killed at least five people at a checkpoint west of Baghdad.

An Iraqi police official says the truck exploded Monday at a police checkpoint in Khan Dhari, killing five police officers and wounding 13 others.

Hours earlier north of Baghdad, a female suicide bomber knocked on the front door of the home of the leader of a local volunteer Sunni militia and blew herself up, killing him.

An Iraqi police official says the blast killed Ahmed Khamees, the local commander of the Sons of Iraq volunteer force in Tarmiya, north of Baghdad. …


Security Developments in Iraq

Following are security developments in Iraq on Dec. 14-15, 2008, as reported by Reuters.

KHAN DHARI – Nine policemen were killed and 31 wounded when a suicide bomber drove a car full of explosives at their checkpoint in Khan Dhari, on the western outskirts of Baghdad, police said. Another police source put the death toll at three, with 30 wounded.

TARMIYA – A female suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest in the town of Tarmiya, 15 miles north of Baghdad, killing the leader of a U.S.-backed neighborhood patrol, police said. The man’s son was also wounded.

MOSUL – Gunmen killed seven people from a single family, members of the minority Yazidi sect, when they stormed into their home in the town of Sinjar, west of Mosul. Mosul is 240 miles northwest of Baghdad, police said.

MOSUL – Gunmen killed a woman in her home in eastern Mosul, police said.

MOSUL – Gunmen in a car seriously wounded Muzahim al-Khayat, dean of Mosul University’s college of medicine, when they opened fire on him in western Mosul, 240 miles north of Baghdad, police and a hospital source said.

BAGHDAD – A roadside bomb wounded three people in central Baghdad’s al-Nidal Street, police said.

6 Responses to “Arabs Hail Bush Shoe-Thrower”
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