A day after the shoe throwing, reaction of the incident ranges from enthusiastic support, with thousands of Iraqis have taken to the streets, demanding his release to those who view the incident as unprofessional and no way to treat a guest.
In Baghdad’s Sadr City, protestors burned U.S. flags, waved shoes attached to long poles and called for al-Zaidi to be released. “Bush, Bush, listen well: Two shoes on your head,” the Shiite protesters chanted in union. In Najaf, a Shiite holy city, an American patrol was pelted with shoes by protestors. Zaidi’s new followers are demanding that a statue be erected in his honor. “The Shoe Man should have a statue built for him. Thousands of Iraqis have been martyred by the Americans. He avenged them.”
Demonstrators waved black banners with antiUS slogans and held up pictures of Hojatoleslam Moqtadr al-Sadr, the militant Shia cleric, while hundreds of passing cars honked their horns. One demonstrator told The Times: “We are here to congratulate the hero Muntazer for throwing his hoes at that low man, Bush. We want to tell Bush to leave Iraq before he kills more people.”
Meanwhile, the National Media Center, an arm of the Iraqi government that deals with the news media, condemned al-Zaidi’s behavior as barbaric and harmful to “Iraqi journalists and journalism in general,” demanding an apology from his employer.
One journalist disagrees with the National Media center saying “It’s the talk of the city.” Ibrahim Mousawi, a Beruit journalist and political analyst affiliated with Hezbollah added, “Everyone is proud of this man, and they’re saying he did it in our name.”
Baghdadiya TV hasn’t apologized and is demanding for al-Zaidi’s release “in line with the democracy and freedom of expression that the American authorities promised the Iraqi people … any measures taken against Muntazer will be considered the acts of a dictatorial regime.” The network posted an image of Zaidi in the corner of the screen for much of the day. Viewers were invited to phone in their opinions, and the vast majority said they approved of his actions. Muzhir al-Khafaji, the programming director for the TV channel said that Zaidi “has no ties with the former regime. His family was arrested under Saddam’s regime. We fear for his safety.”
A geography teacher at Baghdad elementary school asked her students if they had seen the footage of the shoe-throwing. “All Iraqis should be proud of this Iraqi brave man, Muntadhar. History will remember him forever,” she said.
Today, Zaidi’s three brothers and one sister said they were bewildered but proud of their brother’s defiance towards President Bush as they gathered in al-Zaidi’s one-bedroom apartment in west Baghdad. The home was decorated with a poster of Latin American revolutionary leader Che Guevara.
“I swear to Allah, he is a hero,” his sister Um Sa’aad, who goes by the nickname Umm Firas, told the AP while watching a replay of her brother throwing his shoes. “May Allah protect him.” Zaidi’s sister can be seen below.
Al-Zaidi’s brother, Dhirgham said, “He hates the American physical occupation as much as he hates the Iranian moral occupation.” “He considers the regime [in Iran] to be the other side of the American coin.” Zaidi is known to sign off his televised reports from “occupied Baghdad.”
Another of Zaidi’s brothers said “Thanks be to God, Muntazer’s act fills Iraqi hearts with pride.” Udai al-Zaidi added, “I’m sure many Iraqis want to do what Muntazer did.”
Colleagues of Zaidi told Agence France-Presse that he “detested America” and had been plotting such attack for months. Zaidi’s family contested this statement saying his actions were spontaneous.
A day after the shoe throwing incident, Zaidi is still being detained by the Iraqi Government. Officials in Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s office refused to comment on his condition or on whether he’s be criminally charged. Iraqi officials said he faces up to seven years in prison – some account said two years – for committing an act of aggression against a visiting head of state. Zaidi’s family said they had not heard from Zaidi since his arrest and that a police officer who picked up Zaidi’s cell phone at midnight Sunday had threatened the family.
Saddam Hussein’s former lawyer today said he was forming a team to defend al-Zaidi. “So far, around 200 Iraqi and other lawyers, including Americans, have expressed willingness to defend the journalist for free,” the Amman-based Khalil al-Dulaimi said. “Our defense will be based on the fact that the US is occupying Iraq, and resistance is legitimate by all means, including shoes,” Dulaimi added.
A Libyan charity group, Wa Attassimou, chaired by leader Muammar Gaddafi’s daughter, has given him a bravery award. “Waatassimou group has taken the decision to give Muntazer al-Zaidi the courage award … because what he did represents a victory for human rights across the world,” the group said.
One thing to remember in all of this, no matter where you stand on the war in Iraq, Zaidi could not have thrown his shoes at Bush, much less survived doing this silly act, without the freedom of democracy. And what many people also need to remember, is that if any one of us here in the United States threw a shoe at a head of state, we’d end up on criminal charges too. So Zaidi’s employer needs to realize this. It’s called, you commit a crime, you go to trial and if found guilty or plead guilty, possibly jail.
But things to ponder in all of this. If the US are really wanted there to help, then why do the people of Iran want us out, and are holding such major demonstrations about the “good” side of the shoe throwing? Do these pictures represent a country or citizens that is thankful for what we, the United States, have supposedly done for them?
I mean, would you believe that a Saudi citizen has offered $10 million to buy Zaidi’s shoes?
Exactly how much has the media “manipulated” or “censored” what we here in the United States see or exactly what we see? Because it seems to me the opinion of the Iraqi government and what the opinion of the Iraqi people is are at completely different extremes. Or are all these protestors terrorists? Have we, or will we really “win the war”? Should we leave, and let terrorism take over again? Or should we leave and let the people overthrow the government? The thing to also remember in all of this is that the Middle East has been in a war with itself, neighboring nations, under the guise of a religious war since the beginning of time. Can we, the U.S., Bush or Obama really stop that? Or should we focus on homeland security and immigration and let the rest of the world fight their own battles that don’t involve us?
BTW, didn’t this war on “terrorism” start with hunting down Osama? Have we really “won the war” on terrorism?
Abdel-Bari Atwan, editor of the London-based newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi, wrote on the newspaper’s website that the incident was “a proper goodbye for a war criminal.”
“This journalist should be elected president of Iraq for what he has done,” Ghazi Abu Baker, a shopkeeper in the West Bank.
“The shoes should be exhibited in a museum as they resemble a rocket that talks on behalf of all Iraqis.” – Zahraa, posting on website of Arabian Business magazine.
“The flying shoe speaks more for Arab public opinion than all the despots/puppets Bush meets during his travels in the Middle East.” – Asad Abu Khalil, professor at Stanislaus University in California.
“Throwing shoes at Bush was the best goodbye kiss ever. It expresses how Iraqis … hate Bush.” – Musa Barhoumeh, editor of Jordan’s independent Al-Gahd newspaper.
Bush “got what he deserves,” Jordanian businessman, Raed Mansi, in Amman. “I hope he got the message loud and clear: that he’s loathed for his wrongdoing, for killing Muslim women and children in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine.”
“Bush wanted to end his bloody term hearing compliments and welcoming words from his collaborators in the Arab and Islamic world. But a shoe from a real Arab man summed up Bush’s black history and told the entire world that the Arabs hold their head high.” – Abdel-Sattar Qassem, Palestinian political science professor at the West Bank’s An Najah University.
“I’ve watched the video over a dozen times on YouTube and was excited every time I see him standing up and calling Bush a dog. But I felt so bitter when he missed.” – Tamer Ismail, art student in Cairo.
“This wonderful shoe has gone down in history. It’s the most important and boldest shoe in the world. I wish I were a shoe.” – a comment left on a Jordanian news website.
- “Iraqi journalist who threw shoes at George W. Bush hates US, fears Iran”, Herald Sun, 16DEC08
- “The Sole of Liberation”, Wall Street Journal, 16DEC08
- “Many hail journalist who threw shoes at Bush”, CTV, 15DEC08
- “Family: Shoe thrower hates both US, Iran role”, AP, 15DEC08
- “Bush shoe incident catches Secret Service flatfooted”, Miami Herald, 15DEC08
- “Shoe-hurling Iraqi becomes a hero to many”, The Mercury News, 15DEC08
- “’Shoe-thrower of Baghdad’ brings Iraqis on to the streets”, The Independent, 16DEC08
- “Across Mideast, Arabs hail shoe-hurling journalist”, AP, 15DEC08
- “Protests over imprisonment of Iraqi who threw his shoes at George Bush”, The Times, 16DEC08
- “Shoe-thrower hailed as a hero in Mideast”, Durriyet Daily News, 15DEC08
- AP – Source of all pictures